The Leeds coach, Brian McClennan, paid tribute to his emergency selections as he ended his first season in command with a Grand Final victory.
"Lee Smith was fantastic," he said, of the wing who moved to full-back to cover for Brent Webb. "It's not for me to say whether he should be in England's World Cup squad, but we're pretty proud of his performance."
The winger Ryan Hall, whose season was supposedly over in mid-summer, thanks to injury, was another to come up trumps. "We're overwhelmed with joy," he said. His captain, Kevin Sinfield, gave McClennan most of the credit for the transformation in the team in the two weeks since they were thrashed at St Helens in the qualifying semi-final.
"He's done a great job in turning it around and keeping a very special trophy at Headingley," said Sinfield, the first Leeds captain to lead the club to back-to-back titles. "But this isn't about me making history. There were 17 warriors out there."
Danny McGuire, who scored twice, said: "We had to graft hard. It was one of the toughest games I've ever played, we dug in deep and the character we showed was unreal. We're very proud. I'm lucky I've been able to play in four of these now and it just gets better every year."
Saints' departing coach, Daniel Anderson, said: "We had a dig in the second half, but the opposition tackled one-on-one better than we did." Anderson insisted defeat would not spoil the memory of his three-and-a-half years at the helm.
"It's been a privilege to be at St Helens," he said.Reuse content