'They all believed, you could see it in their eyes'

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The Independent Online

Leeds had to reach new heights to carry off the Super League title with a spectacular display, according to their captain, Kevin Sinfield. "In the last couple of weeks the belief and application of the players is something I've never seen at the club," he said. "They all believed, you could see it in their eyes." Sinfield, who signed a new contract this week that will extend his stay with the Rhinos to 18 years, paid tribute to Leeds' departing coach, Tony Smith. "He's the best coach Leeds have ever had."

Scrum-half Rob Burrow, who was named man of the match, called it "a fantastic team performance". "He's been outstanding all season," said Smith. "He used to be a very, very good individual player, but now he's a very good team player as well."

Saints' coach Daniel Anderson manipulated his substitutions so that young players such as James Graham and James Roby, who had never experienced defeat on a big occasion, were on the field at the end to absorb it. "I wanted our young blokes to experience the hardship of losing," he said after St Helens' first Grand Final defeat. "They'd not experienced adversity, but it's character-building. We'll bounce back, I guarantee it."