FAMILIARITY HAS not bred contempt as far as Leeds Rhinos forward Adam Cuthbertson is concerned.
Friday’s First Utility Super League semi-final will be Rhinos’ fifth meeting with St Helens this year, but Cuthbertson is full of respect for the defending champions.
Rhinos did a home and away double over Saints in the weekly rounds and also beat them in a Challenge Cup semi-final at the end of July, but Friday’s visitors bounced back with a victory at Headingley four weeks ago.
Saints finished fourth at the end of the Super-8s, but were just three points behind Leeds and Cuthbertson predicted: “It makes for a cracking game.
“They have got a class team and we do, too, so it makes for a great semi-final.
“We just need everybody to get to Headingley and get behind us.”
Cuthbertson said Rhinos’ loud away support played a crucial role in last week’s dramatic 20-16 victory at Huddersfield Giants, which clinched the league leaders’ shield.
“The crowd last week were phenomenal, they really got behind us,” he said.“You can definitely hear them at every moment of the game and they were outstanding.”
Cuthbertson has been selected in the Super League Dream Team and nominated for the Man of Steel award in his first season at Leeds.
He has already picked up a Challenge Cup winner’s medal and played a key role in Rhinos finishing top of the table, but said he has never experienced anything like the final few moments at Huddersfield last Friday.
He reckons the never-say-die spirit Rhinos showed will stand them in good stead as they chase the Super League title.
Rhinos trailed 16-8 with less than 10 minutes left, but grabbed victory thanks to Ryan Hall’s try after the hooter had sounded and Cuthbertson said: “We (Newcastle Knights) had a similar victory against Melbourne Storm last year, but there were bigger stakes last week.
“I’ve never never experienced anything like it in terms of the scenario. It was something special and it is what this team is all about – don’t ever give up on us, because we will never give up on ourselves.
“We can pull things like that out when we need to. You can’t buy into what anyone else has got to say, you have just got to believe in your own opinion and work on what we can do as a team, structurally, during the week and never give up on ourselves.
“We know we have got each other’s backs, for 80 minutes. There were moments last week when we could have given in, but we didn’t. We defended our line really well all night. Just a couple of little fundamentals let us down at times, but we didn’t give in.
“We got the two points to get us level, then at the end we backed ourselves – like we have in the past – and we got a good victory.”
Cuthbertson feels Rhinos are back on form after a three-game losing run. He added: “We played a really good team and I thought we played well. There were a couple of little areas that let them into the game, but apart from that I thought we were good – and I think they were, too. It was a very exciting last week of the competition and I am sure the semi-finals are going to be good as well.”