We Have No Right To Be Here: Leeds Rhinos Reborn After Banning Bickering

This Saturday, Matt Prior is looking to join an elite group of players to win both NRL and Super League Grand Finals
11:12, 22 Sep 2022

Matt Prior can on Saturday join an elite group of players to win both NRL and Super League Grand Finals, with this opportunity one that even he could not have envisaged. 

Only 15 players have ever done it, an elite list that St Helens’ Will Hopoate could also join, one that boasts a succession of former Leeds and Saints icons including Darren Albert, Marcus Bai, David Furner and Jamie Lyon.

And for 35-year old Prior, who experienced the NRL holy grail with St George in 2010 and Cronulla six years later, this is a shot at Betfred Super League glory that simply never looked like being on the menu.


“We have no right to be here,” says Prior ahead of this season’s climax between Leeds and defending champions St Helens - the final game in his penultimate season as a professional.

“With the way we started this season and what we have been through, it makes it even more special that we never gave up.

“We were looking at relegation so this is not something we were expecting, the manner in which we have done it is pretty impressive.”

Prior and his mates were strapping themselves in for a relegation fight a few months ago, with only Toulouse below them in the table. 

A change of coach, an injection of belief, and some barely believable defensive performances and suddenly Leeds have navigated their way through the back markers to within 80 minutes of another chequered flag.

“We just thought we needed to start winning games so that we didn’t get relegated,” Prior admits.

“We took it a game at a time, knocking them off one by one and here we are. It’s all worked out.

“The more I think about the game the more excited I get. Our style of footy that we are playing now will be enough to get the job done on Saturday.”

Prior’s giant 6’3” frame arrived at the Rhinos from Cronulla for the 2020 season, and was soon missing the picturesque surrounds of his Wollongong upbringing, as lockdown kept him holed up in a small flat in Leeds. 

On the field he made an immediate impact, winning the Challenge Cup in his first year, and standing in as captain. But off the field it was a struggle.

“The last couple of years have been difficult,” he admits.

“I was living in a small apartment in lockdown, not being able to do much and I was sick of it. I wanted to go home and be with friends and family. I was pretty close to leaving. It was getting to me, I felt I was missing out. I was close to calling it a day and going back home but I’m glad I stayed.”

Prior rode the storm and believes he has emerged stronger from it, in the same way he and his team-mates have responded to this season’s adversity that saw under-pressure boss Richard Agar walk away just weeks into the campaign to be replaced by a little-known Aussie.

“Since Rohan Smith has come in it’s been a real change. He has a really relaxed attitude where nothing is ever a problem. Before Rohan came we would bicker a bit on the field if things weren’t absolutely perfect. Things aren’t always perfect now, but there’s no bickering anymore.”

Prior has become a big leader at Leeds in a short space of time, a towering presence alongside Dream Team prop Mikołaj Olędzki.

He now hopes to use his NRL Grand Final experience to power his club to a 9th Super League crown against all the odds. Prior has never even set foot inside the Theatre of Dreams, the iconic venue for Saturday evening’s showpiece. But he does know what it takes to win a Grand Final.

“To win a Grand Final takes a team effort, it is a game where the little things are the big things. All those little efforts that go unseen. Working hard for your mate, it’s not the flashy plays but the little plays that will win it for us.

“It’s been six years since my last one. They are tough to get into, you have to do a lot of things right.

“But I came over here hoping to play in a Grand Final, and to win one.”

Leeds Rhinos are 9/5 to win the Grand Final with Betfred*

*18+ | BeGambleAware | Odds Subject To Change

Pictures courtesy of swpix.com

Suggested Searches:
The Sportsman
Manchester United
Manchester City
Premier League
Sportsman HQ
72-76 Cross St
Manchester M2 4JG
We will not ask you to provide any personal information when using The Sportsman website. You may see advertisement banners on the site, and if you choose to visit those websites, you will accept the terms and conditions and privacy policy applicable to those websites. The link below directs you to our Group Privacy Policy, and our Data Protection Officer can be contacted by email at: [email protected]

All original material is Copyright © 2019 by The Sportsman Communications Ltd.
Other material is copyright their respective owners.