Coach Brian McDermott was ecstatic after steering Leeds to a third-spot Super League finish after cruising past Wigan.
The Rhinos, who have won back-to-back Grand Finals from fifth, trailed 6-4 at half-time in their last league match but dominated after the break to ease home 20-6 and secure a trip to Warrington in the opening round of the play-offs next Saturday.
"I've never finished this high," said McDermott, who left struggling Harlequins to succeed Tony Smith at Headingley three years ago. "I'm very fortunate to be coaching these type of people."
McDermott had the luxury of choosing from a fully-fit squad, with Danny McGuire, Brett Delaney, Jamie Jones-Buchanan and Ryan Bailey all recently making their comebacks from lengthy injury lay offs.
It has been an impressive turnaround for the Rhinos who maintained their challenge during the height of their mid-season injury crisis.
"We're not slapping our backs too heavily but it's a remarkable effort by the players," he added.
"We've been without some key people for such a long period of time but we've all stuck together through testing times. I think we've been good for the majority of the year. I know it seems like we've just started to wake up but we've been in good nick for a while in fairness."
Wane praise for Leeds
After leading the table for long periods of the season, Wigan have to settle for fourth spot, meaning a trip to league leaders Huddersfield in next Thursday's opening play-off tie.
The Challenge Cup winners will need to bounce back after ending their Super League campaign with seven defeats in nine matches but coach Shaun Wane insists he can turn their fortunes around.
"We weren't at out best," he said. "I thought Leeds were outstanding. We tested them in small parts of the game but not enough. Leeds have some classy players who know how to win games and I thought they did a job on us.
"It's sad the way it's happened but I know we can play better than that."
Wane brought the majority of his cup-winning team back after resting them a week ago but the Warriors sorely missed their inspirational captain Sean O'Loughlin, who is out for at least four weeks with an Achilles tear.
"Any Super League team would miss him because he's a great player but the fact is he's injured and he's not going to be back next week so we have to deal with it," Wane said.
"We've a big game on Thursday and we will have to make sure we're good for that."