LIAM Sutcliffe hopes for a ‘crazy’ end to his Leeds career – one that will be without Aidan Sezer.
The Rhinos star bows out after Saturday’s Grand Final before heading to Hull FC.
And if they manage to make it 5-0 over St Helens in the showpiece, in the first meeting between them in the match since 2011, you can be sure he will be pinching himself.
Earlier this season, relegation looked more likely but Rohan Smith’s appointment as coach has turned things around, now they are one game from winning the title after finishing fifth.
Now centre Sutcliffe, one of a number of players leaving Headingley, is dreaming of a fairytale farewell after believing lessons learned as they floundered stand him in good stead.
The 27-year-old said: “Tom Briscoe and I have talked about it a fair bit saying, ‘How crazy would it be if we got to the Grand Final?’ Now it’s, ‘We’re there now and how crazy would it be if we go on to win it?’
“It would be crazy, absolutely crazy. To say where we were at the start of the year, with everyone tipping is for relegation and things like that – to be 80 minutes from winning it has been a bit of a crazy ride.
“Rohan’s added bits but just calmed the place down. There was probably a fair bit of anxiety around the place with us not going so well but he’s added a real calmness to the group.
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“No-one imagined the impact he’d have. We were in a pretty bad place at the start of the year. If you said at the time we’d be in a Grand Final, no-one would’ve believed you.
“But the character built up at the start of the year going through so much adversity can help you going forward. Looking back now, I wouldn’t change a thing. I wouldn’t change what we went through as it’s helped us along the way.
“There’s been all sorts go on over the last five years.
“Going from the high of winning the Grand Final in 2017, being bottom of the league, winning the Challenge Cup, then going back to the bottom of the league, it’s been a bit crazy.
“If we win, I don’t know whether I’d be crying through sadness or happiness but I’m happy with the decision that’s been made.”
Leeds will have to deny St Helens a fourth straight title without half back Sezer, who suffered concussion symptoms when he was clobbered late by John Bateman the semi-final win at Wigan, for which he was rightly sent off.
Smith said: “The category one concussion symptoms are the determining factor on returning to play. Aidan will not be available, he’s shattered.”
Harry Newman has been ruled out of both the Grand Final and England’s World Cup campaign, while Morgan Gannon will definitely miss Old Trafford.
David Fusitu’a and Ash Handley are described as ‘most unlikely’ to play St Helens.