Rob Burrow told skysports.com that the hunger for success is "bigger than ever" at Leeds Rhinos.
By Rob Lancaster
Last Updated: 14/02/11 10:33am
Rob Burrow has warned the rest of Super League that Leeds' hunger for trophies is "bigger than ever" after a disappointing 2010.
The Rhinos find themselves in an unfamiliar situation this season as for the first time in three years they do not have the added pressure of being defending champions, having lost to eventual winners Wigan in the play-offs.
They also fell at the final hurdle in the Challenge Cup in what turned out to be Brian McClennan's final season in charge at Headingley.
Having initially returned to his old club to be No.2 to the ex-Kiwi boss, Brian McDermott was promoted to the top job a year earlier than originally planned.
With James Lowes also being added to the coaching staff in the off-season, Burrow admits that things have been freshened up at Leeds as they aim to get back to the top.
"It's a bit different for us," Burrow told skysports.com. "Obviously the coaching staff has changed, which freshens things up, and coming into this year not as champions means it's a different start for us.
"For the last three years we've been coming back and trying to defend it (the Super League title), but now it's all about striving to get that success again.
"The hunger was always massive. But this is a bit of a different challenge; were not entering it as champions but everyone wants to beat Leeds whether we are champions or not. It's a club that everyone wants to play well against.
"But the hunger is bigger than ever - we want it back.
"We put pressure on ourselves to achieve success, and we didn't achieve anything last year, which was really disappointing. Some people might be happy getting to Challenge Cup finals and reaching the play-offs, but we want to have trophies.
"But we're just going to concentrate on playing well and hopefully, down the line, that will take care of itself."
And what of life under McDermott, who did such a superb job during his time in charge of Harlequins?
"I'm really enjoying it," the diminutive number seven said. "Everything is really fresh and I'm enjoying the challenge of hearing a new voice and learning new concepts off different people.
"Brian and Jimmy have achieved a lot in the game and the lads are really buzzing. We're ready to go in the season now."
Leeds' last campaign was not helped by a lengthy list of injuries and they will start in 2011 without two key players - talismanic forward Jamie Peacock and stand-off Danny McGuire.
The England duo will not return to first-team action for several months yet, although Burrow - who himself was sidelined for a large chunk of last year with a knee injury - believes a strong squad can cope until they return.
Up and down
"Going into the play-offs with people like Jamie Peacock and Danny McGuire missing, to name but a couple... there's no replacements for them. They are stand-out players," he admitted.
"But amongst the injuries there was a lot of up-and-down form and you can't have that when you're playing in such a strong position. There was no real continuity. I was out for 14 weeks or whatever, and then we lost Danny. The half-backs were changing all year."
On the absence of Peacock and McGuire, the 28-year-old added: "You can't do much about it during the season, if you lose one player one week and then someone else the next.
"But we've been training for quite a while in the off-season and have been getting to learn combinations and formations with different people.
"You can't replace them, yet we've got a great squad and we're just going to have to do our best until they get back."