Can Leeds stun St Helens? Super League Grand Final talking points

Can Leeds stun St Helens? Super League Grand Final talking points

The Super League Grand Final will take place at Old Trafford on Saturday as current champions St Helens take on Leeds.

Saints beat Salford to earn a spot in their fourth consecutive final while Leeds overcame Catalans Dragons and Wigan to get to their first showpiece since 2017.

Here, the PA news agency looks at the talking points ahead of the game.

Leeds are in form

Wigan Warriors v Leeds Rhinos – Betfred Super League – Semi-Final – DW Stadium
Leeds beat Wigan in their semi-final (Nigel French/PA)

It’s been a season of two halves for the Rhinos, who looked like they would be facing a battle to stay in the top-flight when the sides met earlier in the season, as St Helens ran out 26-0 winners at Headingley. Since then, the Rhinos have swapped coaches, with Rohan Smith now at the wheel. The Rhinos looked an unlikely candidate to make the play-offs but finished the season in strong fashion and picked up 11 wins from their last 13 games, including play-off victories over Wigan and Catalans. Leeds will be hoping their form clinches a first Super League title for five years.

Woolf’s last game

St Helens v Salford Red Devils – Betfred Super League – Semi-Final – Totally Wicked Stadium
Kristian Woolf will wave goodbye to St Helens after Saturday’s showpiece (Will Matthews/PA)

Kristian Woolf will return to Australia following the game after three years in charge of Saints, overseeing one of the most successful spells in the club’s history. The 47-year-old helped win the Challenge Cup for the first time in 13 years and the Super League title in each of his first two campaigns, while St Helens look to make it four consecutive Grand Final victories, for the first time in the competition’s history. Woolf has the opportunity to become the first coach to win the Grand Final three times, the Australian is currently level with Brian McDermott and Brian McLennan with two titles.

Roby to equal finals record

Catalans Dragons v St Helens – Betfred Super League – Grand Final – Old Trafford
James Roby is on course for his 11th Grand Final appearance (Zac Goodwin/PA)

St Helens hooker James Roby has made over 500 appearances for the club, having only represented Saints. He could equal a record set by former Leeds prop Jamie Peacock by featuring in his 11th Grand Final on Saturday. The 36-year-old has won Super League’s most coveted prize five times (2006, 2014, 2019, 2020 and 2021), but a defeat at the weekend means he could become the first man to lose six Grand Finals having previously been on the losing side for St Helens in five successive seasons between 2007 and 2011, three of those defeats coming against Leeds. A player-of-the-match performance for the veteran will also see him become the first man to lift the Harry Sunderland trophy on three occasions.

Sutcliffe’s last appearance

Leeds Rhinos v Warrington Wolves – Betfred Super League – Headingley Stadium
Liam Sutcliffe will play his last game before moving to Hull (Will Matthews/PA)

Leeds loose forward Liam Sutcliffe is currently the club’s longest serving player after spending the last nine years with them, having come through the youth system. But he will pack his bags and leave for Hull after the final hooter on Saturday. The 27-year-old has played 221 games for the Rhinos since making his first-team debut in 2013, making 11 appearances for the club in the 2015 treble-winning campaign, and will be looking to bow out with another Grand Final winners’ medal, to add to his 2017 triumph.

Records will be broken

Rugby League – Engage Super League – Grand Final – Leeds Rhinos v St. Helens – Old Trafford
St Helens have equalled Leeds’ record of three consecutive Super League wins, which was set in 2009 (Anna Gowthorpe/PA)

Whether it be wanted or unwanted, Saturday’s showpiece is destined to break records in Super League. Two of the most successful sides in the league’s history will clash and whichever team gets their hands on the prize, they will set a new record for most Grand Final wins, having both previously lifted the Super League trophy eight times. Saints could be the first team ever to make it four on the bounce, with Leeds previously setting the record for consecutive victories in 2007, 2008 and 2009. But on the flip side, if St Helens taste defeat, they would equal the unwelcome record of six losses at the final hurdle, currently held by Wigan.