TONIGHT’S VISIT of Hull KR is more than a friendly for Leeds Rhinos, veteran Rob Burrow reckons.
After their disastrous 2016 campaign and a poor showing on Boxing Day, Burrow reckons Rhinos need to prove they mean business this year.
Coach Brian McDermott has named his strongest-available squad for Ryan Hall’s testimonial game and Burrow said it’s vital they put what they’ve been doing in practice into action on the field.
“Training has been really good,” insisted the half-back/hooker, who did not play in the 30-6 Christmas drubbing by Wakefield Trinity.
“We’ve really seen a lot of positive stuff and it gives you a bit of a low when that’s not shown out on the pitch.
“It is all right training all right, but we’ve got to play well.
“Hull KR are a good team. Look at their squad and they shouldn’t be in the Championship.
“It is as strong as it was last year and they’ve added people like Jamie Ellis, who are quality players as well.
“We need to play well because of that and we need to get things right for ourselves.”
He stressed: “We have to hit the ground running going into Super League.
“You could say ‘it’s only a friendly’, but I think it’s more than that.
“It is about taking what we’ve been practicing for months out on to the field where it counts.
“That’s what we are looking to do and hopefully we can perform well.”
Australian hooker Matt Parcell is the only new signing in Rhinos’ squad for tonight.
After last year’s battle against relegation, Burrow admitted Rhinos need to prove to their fans and other teams they are capable of competing at the top end of Betfred Super League.
“It’s a pre-season game so it’s time to try things and get things right, but it’s also a time to do the good stuff,” he added.
“We’ll have as strong a squad as we can get out there and we will be looking to perform really, really well.”
Tonight’s game is also an opportunity for players and fans to pay tribute to five-time Grand Final winner Hall.
Burrow has played alongside the England winger since his debut in 2007 and reckons he is one of the best in the business.
He said: “He has been great.
“I’ve been on the left-side with Hally – attack and defend on the left – and when you give him the ball you know what he’s going to do.
“Defensively he is really, really good. As a half-back or hooker you kick the ball and you are down there leading the chase and you’ve got the back-three bringing it back.
“The last person you want to face is Ryan Hall and I am glad he is on our team.
“He has been fantastic throughout his career and it is surprising how quickly the 10 years have gone.
“He has got a lot of life left in him yet, but he has had such a big impact.”
Off-season signings Cory Aston and Jack Ormondroyd, who have played in Rhinos’ opening two trial games, are set to feature on dual-registration for Featherstone Rovers at home to Wakefield Trinity on Sunday.