Sinfield salutes Rhinos attitude
Kevin Sinfield saluted his side's attitude over the last month after they retained their Super League crown at the expense of Warrington.
Sinfield produced a man-of-the-match performance, which included recovering from being knocked out early in the second half, to record a 26-18 victory over Challenge Cup winners Warrington.
The Rhinos finished fifth in the league but have a reputation of lifting their game in the play-offs and it proved so again this year, defeating Wakefield at Headingley before triumphing away to Catalan Dragons and Wigan.
"A month ago we were dead and buried. We got a towelling at Huddersfield and you couldn't have written this again," Sinfield told Sky Sports 1.
"You come here against a great side and we were able to grind that out again.
"Our boys have really dug in for a month now. Wakefield, Catalan away, Wigan away and this. All great scenes."
The veteran stand-off scored a try and kicked five goals from as many attempts to collect his second Harry Sunderland Trophy.
They did not get off to the best of starts, however, with half-back Richie Myler giving Warrington an early lead.
"We've been here before, we've been behind," Sinfield said.
"When they scored first at the start of the game (Jamie) Jones-Buchanan said 'We've been here before fellas, we never score first'.
"Thankfully we found a way to win."
Sinfield has now led his side to all six Grand Final wins in just nine glorious years to confirm his status as the greatest captain in Leeds' history and increase his side's love affair with Manchester.
"The club's special. Not just the players, not just the coaches," he added.
"The backroom staff, our fans, our families, you just don't stop believing.
"We're getting good hidings throughout the year and things aren't going well but you stick with it."
Kylie Leuluai admitted his disbelief at the Rhinos' resilience. Leeds also finished fifth in the Super League standings last year and prop Leuluai was astonished that lightning had struck twice.
"I don't like the word surreal but it feels like that. It's been such an up and down season, the same as last year," he said.
"I couldn't believe we beat Wigan last week and then to come and do this is just special."
Leeds coach Brian McDermott was quick to hail his players after the victory, one which saw them become Super League's most successful club, with six championships since the competition began in 1996.
"The pressure on the players to come up with the goods is immense," he said.
"Every one of them, they're brilliant.
"The players deserve a huge amount of credit, it's unbelievable working with them.
"They must be as proud as punch because this has been an incredible victory."
McDermott revealed there had been times when he doubted his side's ability after some thumping losses in the league.
But he was delighted to get revenge over Warrington after being on the losing side in the Challenge Cup final at Wembley.
"We created history last year doing it from fifth. We've had some games where we can't work out what they're trying to achieve," he added.
"To get in the play-offs and every game we've played, there's been such an amount of pressure in every single game.
"When Leeds lose everybody knows about it."
Warrington coach Tony Smith was magnanimous in defeat. "The better team won on the night," he said.
"It was a nip-and tuck Grand Final, it ebbed and flowed.
"We just probably lacked a bit of discipline on our own try line, conceded way too many penalties, having to defend too much there.
"But aside from that I thought there was a good commitment. Our kicking game probably wasn't as good as it needed to be in this sort of game but aside from that, good game."
The Australian felt the Rhinos had a slight edge by having a hefty amount of experience in a Grand Final, whereas this was Warrington's first.
However, he did not think it was too much of a factor.
"It probably helped them to some degree, possibly," he said.
"It's about getting those breaks at the right time or getting those back-to-back sets.
"I thought our defence was enormous there tonight but if you just don't quite do things right or you give away that next penalty or that next penalty that's tough work."
Warrington have every right to take pride in their season, winning the Challenge Cup for the third time in four years.
And Smith confirmed tonight's experience will serve to motivate the Wolves in future.
"We'll be right, it'll inspire us," he added.
"We're hurting there, we've talked about it but we've had a terrific season, we've improved as a club and we'll continue to do that.
"This will drive us."