Leroy Rivett

This is two interviews with Leroy Rivett merged together. One is from Thirteen in 2005, and one with Rugby League World in 2009 shortly after he announced he was leaving Rochdale and quitting the game. Rivett, of course, was the first man to score four tries in a Challenge Cup Final at Wembley when he was part of the Leeds team that beat London Broncos in 1999.

Would you have swapped what you achieved at Wembley in 1999 for a longer Super League career?
[pause] Good question! Er, no I don’t think I would. I was so disappointed to leave Leeds because they were the club I’d loved as a boy. And I didn’t achieve as much in the game as I should have done. But I did something that the vast majority of players don’t get to do at Wembley, and I wouldn’t swap that for anything. I can’t believe it’s been ten years, though. My career was just starting out then, now it’s in its twilight.

How often do you think of the final?
Well, it’s hard not to because people always bring it up! It was real Roy of the Rovers stuff and it was hard to get my feet back on the ground afterwards.

What did Graham Murray bring to the club?
The team had been hungry for success for a long time because of Wigan’s domination but Graham made it a reality. He wasn’t just an excellent coach, he was a great man-manager and introduced a very good team spirit. We hung out together, we ate together and there were no cliques. Edgar Curtis, our conditioner, played a huge part too. I’ve never been fitter than I was then – he really knew what he was talking about.

You came to prominence in the 1998 play offs against St Helens skinning Newlove and Sullivan for that try.
Yes, I remember that game. I scored a dubious early try in the opening minutes from a kick through. That kick started us that day and we ran away with it. As for the second try you mention I spoke to Anthony Sullivan afterwards and I don’t think it did his push for a Great Britain spot any favours!

Did the 1998 Grand Final loss spur you on to start 1999 so well?
Yes, I think so. We were so disappointed to lose that Grand Final – there was only one piece of Jason Robinson magic between the sides. It was a bitter pill to swallow but it focussed us for 1999 and we were determined to win something.

When Barrie McDermott was sent off in your first game against Wigan, did you think your Cup run was over almost before it had started?
A few of us probably did at first but teams have a habit of digging in when they go down to 12 men and there are plenty of examples of teams winning like that. And we pulled it off.

Likewise in the semi-final, you were 10-0 down with the Bulls all over you.
We often went behind that year but turned it around. We weren’t in it at all until Ryan Sheridan pulled off an incredible ball steal on Danny Peacock to score our first try. Winning that semi-final was incredible and we’d done it the hard way beating Wigan, Saints and the Bulls. I was just happy to be part of a semi-final winning team that day because I didn’t know if I’d be playing in the final or not.

Was there any complacency in the team before the final given London’s injury crisis?
No, not at all. It was a Cup Final and we weren’t going to blow it like that. We went 10-0 down like in the semi-final but we didn’t panic. Daryl Powell made a break and the ball got to me via a deflection off Martin Offiah, then Brad Godden put us in front. But they kept coming at us and Ryan Sheridan pulled off a massive trysaving tackle. He must have been close to the Lance Todd that day.

Talk us through your other tries.
For the second, Moz [Adrian Morley] made a break and we were camped on their line. The ball came to the right and Richie Blackmore put me over. For the next I took an intercept off Karle Hammond and the last one was short-range on the right up the touchline.

What happened with the Ferrari?
One of our sponsors, Darren, said he’d lend his Ferrari to the first tryscorer – which was me. So later in the season it was mine for the weekend. We all went out and left the cars at someone’s house. Later that night, one of my mates found the keys, took it for a spin and wrote it off at a roundabout. Telling Darren his Ferrari had been written off wasn’t the easiest thing I had to do that season!

Did you struggle with the expectation after the final?
Yes I did. The expectation was massive and if you don’t hit the heights you get criticised. We struggled a bit at the end of 1999 and at the start of the next season and people look for scapegoats.

Dare I mention the 2000 final?
I took a hammering off the press for that didn’t I? But the bombs were nowhere near me – it wasn’t as if I dropped them. They torpedoed and just bounced into Bulls’ hands. I hadn’t played much that year and I think [new coach] Dean Lance was under pressure to pick me. The biggest shame for me is that it was my last game for the club.

How would you assess your career since Leeds?
I’ve never really settled anywhere to be honest although I did enjoy my time at Hull KR. Harvey Howard took me there after I’d had a pretty miserable spell in France at Villefranche. Then Justin Morgan came in after Harvey and I really liked playing for them. But my game was about speed and enthusiasm and I lost some of that enthusiasm after Leeds.

Were you unfairly treated by Leeds and Dean Lance afterwards?
Not really to be honest. I’d not started much in 2000 and I was on the outside. I just wasn’t in the fold. But I think Dean was under a little pressure to play me in the final and I came up with a couple of mistakes. That’s rugby league though! You’ve just got to do the best you can.

How are you enjoying playing for Rochdale?
We’ve not done as well as I’d hoped and, to be honest, the commitment is difficult for me because of my work. I played in the last eight games last year and we did well so I thought we’d push for promotion this year but it’s been a tough year with the financial problems at the club and it just hasn’t happened. I think after this season, I’ll call it a day. I’ve said that after the last three seasons but I think I mean it this time.

Who has been the biggest influence on your rugby league career?
Nobody really stands out. You come across good coaches and good players but there’s not one person who has been a big influence on me.

Who was your boyhood rugby league idol?
Someone of the stature of Ellery Hanley. Black players who you can relate to have made a success of themselves. Obviously Martin Offiah too and Jason Robinson.

Who do you look up to in the modern game?
I don’t really. I’ve got a lot of experience now and just concentrate on getting my own game right.

What’s the best try you’ve ever scored?
The third at Wembley. The intercept. It’s great when you can back yourself with a bit of pace and it was my hat trick too.

You got the BBC try of the Year for that didn’t you?
Was it for that one? I can’t remember. I’d forgotten about that award!

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