LEEDS RHINOS will be alert to potential danger when they take on Crusaders in Wrexham tonight.
Rhinos have beaten Crusaders three times this year – in a pre-season trial game, Engage Super League and the Carnegie Challenge Cup.
But boss Brian McDermott feels Iestyn Harris’ Welsh outfit are a better side than their position at the foot of the table suggests – and he insisted Rhinos won’t be caught off guard.
Leeds are looking to build on the 44-14 win over Hull KR five days ago and McDermott stressed: “I don’t think there’s a danger of us relaxing – not with where we’ve been.
“The players are focused, but I don’t think Crusaders will be thinking ‘I hope Leeds are poor so we can beat them’.
“They will be thinking ‘the last two times we’ve played Leeds, we have pushed them – and we pushed them for large parts of the game’.
“It is a big test for us this week. When I brief the fellas on what the threats of Crusaders are and where we are going to try and get them, I won’t have to do too much of a psychological sell.
“They know that they are going to be a tough team.”
Fatigue is an added concern for Rhinos. Five of McDermott’s team played twice in three days last weekend and two of those, Ryan Hall and Kevin Sinfield, played the full 160 minutes.
McDermott has included all Leeds’ International Origin match players in his initial 19 and is confident they can handle a third game in the space of a week.
“We are monitoring them and adjusting what we do with them accordingly,” he reported.
“We are very aware of where they have been, but if you look in their eyes, they are all keen and bright-eyed.
“They might have been a bit dusty on Monday and Tuesday, but they will be right come game time.
“I keep praising our medical staff and our conditioning team, but it needs doing.
“They do a very good job. It’s not that they work them harder than anybody else, but they are smart in how they treat them.
“I am very confident the players will be bang right.”
Rhinos produced one of their best performances of the season in the win over Hull KR and McDermott admitted they can’t afford to let standards slip.
“It is important to play well tonight,” he stressed. “The most pleasing aspect of the game against Hull KR was that we played really well.
“We pushed on in the second half, which was something we didn’t do in the two previous weeks. Playing the way we did against Hull KR makes the place where you work a lot more enjoyable.”