Liam Sutcliffe has credited the calm approach Rohan Smith has brought to the club as key to their run to Saturday’s Betfred Super League Grand Final (Match Winner – 80 Minutes – St Helens 1/2, Leeds 21/10, Tie 18/1)

The Theatre of Dreams awaits ….

The Australian arrived at Headingley in April following Richard Agar’s dismissal on the back of a run that saw them take just three points from their first nine and emerge as potential relegation candidates.

Smith’s efforts have transformed the side to such a degree that they are now just 80 minutes away from the club’s ninth Grand Final success (Grand Final Winner – St Helens 2/5, Leeds 9/5).

Doing so would see them win at Old Trafford after finishing fifth in the table for the third time, while Saints aim to become the first club to win the showpiece on four successive occasions.

The storylines are already written, with St Helens coach Kristian Woolf set to depart back home to Australia in the aftermath, while Sutcliffe is one of the Rhinos players preparing to leave the club in the close season.

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Barring loan or dual registration spells at Bradford and Featherstone, Sutcliffe (10/3 anytime try scorer) has played his entire career with the Rhinos.

After failing to find a regular role during his younger years, his versatility meant he started at left centre in their 2017 Grand Final success. That’s the role he is likely to occupy again on Saturday before heading down the M62 to play under Smith’s uncle, Tony, at Hull FC.

The 27-year-old says his side’s situation when Smith took over means they can again approach the match with “no fear”, with more pressure on favourites Saints.

What is certain is that the Rhinos will not be overawed by the occasion, with ‘Sutty’ crediting the Australian coach’s calm demeanour as decisive to their success during his short reign.

“Rohan has come in and done his bits on the team,” Sutcliffe said. “He’s calmed us down. We were an anxious bunch early on, but he’s been great, and everyone has bought into what he wants to achieve here, which is clear to see.

“When he came in halfway through, nobody expected that we would make the final. We were in a bad place, and it was just a case of finishing strong, but to make Old Trafford is crazy.

“The style of rugby he plays works for us. Players thrive under his tactics, and the freedom he allows really suits certain aspects of our game.”

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