FIVE STRAIGHT league defeats is poor preparation, but winger Ryan Hall says recent form won’t matter when Leeds Rhinos begin their Super League play-offs campaign at home to Catalan Dragons on Saturday.
Rhinos finished sixth in the table and haven’t won a league games since July 25 and Hall said: “It is a strange one. It’s something we didn’t plan for. After the Challenge Cup final we wanted to win the league. We knew if we won all our three games there was a possibility of doing that and we were full of confidence coming away from Wembley.
“But we had to play three good sides, two of them away from home and that is a tough ask, particularly with how tight the competition has been this year.
“We fell quite a way short of that, but the play-offs is a new competition. and we are starting afresh. We are forgetting the league form, because that goes out of the window as soon as the play-offs start. It is straight knockout now, it’s four games and hopefully we can rise to the challenge.
“We have certainly got improvements to do, like every team has. Hopefully we can do that, because we have got a tough game this week.”
Catalan have never beaten Rhinos at Headingley Carnegie, but were seconds away from victory earlier in the season before Liam Sutcliffe landed a penalty goal after the hooter to win it for Leeds.
“They stopped Castleford from winning the league at the weekend, so they certaionly can play,” Hall added.
“We know what we get when we play Catalan. They are a big, physical side and we have to be ready. “We have to roll our sleeves up and put our bodies in front of theirs and make sure we get the job done.”
Meanwhile, Hall admitted he was delighted at his inclusion in this year’s First Utility Super League Dream Team, along with Rhinos’ Zak Hardaker, Kallum Watkins, Jamie Peacock and Carl Ablett.
“This is my fourth year now and it’s really pleasing,” he said. “Everytime I get in it’s a real honour to be picked among the elite players in the competition for my performances throughout the year.
“Getting picked more than once doesn’t take the edge of it and hopefully I can get in for a few more years.”
Hall and St Helens’ Tommy Makinson were selected as the Dream Team wingers, but there was strong competition from the likes of Warrington Wolves’ Joel Monaghan, Jermaine McGillvary (Huddersfield Giants), Josh Charnley (Wigan Warriors) and Justin Carney (Castleford Tigers).
“When I was told I was in the team I was really pleased with myself, because it has been a year for wingers,” Hall added.
“There’s some really good wingers in the competition this year and in the England squad as well. There were five wingers picked in the England squad and that shows how strong the position is. It keeps you on your toes. Certainly when I was coming through, when I was younger, you looked at what was in your way and who you needed to get past.I suppose the same is happening to me now and the young kids like Joe Burgess are looking for ways to get past me. That is a challenge in itself and it is a new challenge for me, but it seems I have done all right this year.”