Ryan Bailey is targeting being a key man in Leeds Rhinos’ latest push for silverware.
With just six rounds left in the regular season, it is incredibly tight in the race for the league leaders’ shield and Bailey said he is desperate to do his bit after an inconsistent season so far.
The recalled forward was among the try scorers in the 24-24 draw with Castleford Tigers which lifted Rhinos temporarily into top-spot in First Utility Super League before victories for Wigan Warriors and St Helens saw Leeds drop into third place – just two points behind leaders Saints.
Bailey, a six-time Grand Final winner, has featured in 16 of Rhinos’ 24 games this year, but has not played in more than five in succession.
“I’ve had a few niggles here and there, but I want to stay consistent now and keep my spot,” said the 30-year-old, who is in his testimonial year at Headingley Carnegie.
“We’ve got nearly everyone available now and that’s good, because it pushes everyone harder when there’s competition for spots.
“In training everyone’s fighting for their spot.
“It is a long season and I want to keep consistent, keep building and do well for the team.”
Bailey scored a try with his first touch after coming off the bench against Tigers, but admitted he would have swapped his third touchdown of the year – and 20th of his Leeds career – for the two points.
“They don’t mean much if you don’t get the win,” he said. “We put a lot of effort in, but Cas are a good team and they don’t go away, at any time in the game. We are building, but we have got a lot of improvements to do. We are looking to improve every game.
“We are working hard for each other, but we’re not coming up with the goods consistently in games.
“We are getting players back and we are getting there.
“We are in better nick than we were two weeks ago.
“We are heading in the right direction, but we have got a lot of things to improve on and if we get the little things right we will go a long way, so we can’t get down over the draw.”
Rhinos were close to full strength against Tigers, with Zak Hardaker available after suspension and Kylie Leuluai, Jamie Jones-Buchanan and Bailey returning from injury.
“Getting players back is a big lift for the team, a big buzz,” Bailey said. “It was the first game back and you can’t expect a 10 out of 10 performance straight away.
“But I think once everyone gets some match fitness we will be firing.
“We’re looking forward to the next few games and it’s a good time to be getting people back. We are building for the (Challenge Cup) semi-final and we know that’s an important game.”