Leeds Rhinos: Carl Ablett’s View from the Pitch – Banter with ‘Fev players’ can’t hide serious side of Qualifiers

Jordan Baldwinson
Jordan Baldwinson
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THE banter has already started with some of our players who might be playing for Featherstone Rovers AGAINST us next week!

There’s a few who have been at Fev this year – Jordan Baldwinson, Jordan Lilley, Luke Briscoe, Josh Walters ...

It is a strange prospect. Obviously, they’re still with us at Leeds the majority of the week being full-time here.

We’ve been keeping close eyes on what’s been happening at Fev as it looked like they might not make the Championship top-four the other week.

But they have pulled it back brilliantly with four wins on the bounce to get in the Qualifiers – and now we’ll be going to Post Office Road to face them.

Speaking to the lads who have been over there, they have all enjoyed it and they’ve got some great experience, too.

But it will be a bit weird; they know how we train, they know all our calls, our gameplan stuff, so, during the match, they will know exactly what we’re talking about.

Anyway, we’ve told Baldy that first kick-off is going straight down his throat!

A few of the younger lads are really talking it all up and it is going to be interesting.

I’ve no qualms with it all, though. It’s up to the club and I’m sure the lads will have a point to prove.

Baldy’s been there most of the season so you can’t argue with that and, once the game starts, I’m sure it will be no different to any other match.

And it has happened before, of course.

I do remember when Liam Botham went on loan to London Broncos and kicked a late goal against us that saw them force a point.

That was back in 2004 and I recall it well – as it was my debut! We were something like 18 points up after an hour but London hit back with three tries – Liam got one of those, too – and then he slotted the kick for a 36-36 draw.

At the time, I didn’t know much about him aside from he was Ian Botham’s son and he played cricket professionally.

I was only young but he came in and you could tell he was a natural sportsman straight away.

He could kick goals and I think he ran at centre and in the back-row. He was probably just a bit raw.

But he went down to London and got some games under his belt and, I think, for the next couple of years, he played a decent amount of games. He then came back to Leeds and played a few more with Rhinos.

He showed his character by being able to kick that goal against the team he was contracted to and it is strange how things work out.

I see some clubs have given their players some time off before the Qualifiers start and with it being the Challenge Cup semi-finals this weekend.

That’s not the case for us, though.

We played last Thursday, were in on the Friday, had the weekend off but have been back in all week near enough since.

I think it’s important that we did that. We’ve hit some decent form these last weeks, picking up some wins, but we need to make sure we’re properly prepared for what’s around the corner.

It’s been quite a tough week actually – we’ve not dropped off – and we do need to be physically ready to come in and up our game again in this competition.

We have to respect them as they have done their work to get to this point and we have to make sure we are good for these next seven games.

I think the amount of training we have done is a mark of respect for the teams we’ll be facing; there is no way we’ll be taking anyone lightly.

It’s Fev first next Saturday and that will be different going to a part-time club.

Life’s all about experiences, though, and it will be great for us to be doing something different to the norm.

Obviously, we’d like to be challenging for Old Trafford but that’s not happening and we have to embrace this.

Liam Sutcliffe

Liam Sutcliffe is relishing chance to compete for honours with Leeds Rhinos