FORM at Headingley Carnegie is crucial for Leeds Rhinos this season, skipper Kevin Sinfield says.
Rhinos open their First Utility Super League home campaign against Widnes Vikings tomorrow and Sinfield admitted they have to be better on their own turf than last year, when they lost four times in the league and play-offs.
Rhinos have failed to win in their last four competitive games at Headingley and Sinfield said: “I think we all realise how important it is to get wins at home and to perform.
“The support we’ve had at Headingley is immense. The side we’re facing (tomorrow) have been able to make their home ground, with their artificial pitch, a fortress and hopefully we can do the same.
“We want to make Headingley a special place for our own fans and for us to play at. We love playing there and coming out of the tunnel, hearing the noise and seeing all the colour.
“That makes it really special. In a lot of other sports they talk about that extra player and that’s certainly created here. Hopefully we can set off on the right foot this week.”
With only 22 more rounds before the competition splits, Sinfield said Leeds need to keep picking up points after last Sunday’s round one victory at Hull KR.
“With the new format everybody wants to get off to a good start,” he said. “We got our first two points on Sunday and it’d be great to get our first home win now.
“It would be nice to be two from two, but we’ll need to improve our performance. To get Headingley rocking on Friday would be brilliant and give us a real lift.”
Rhinos twice hit back from 14 points down in their 40-30 success at Craven Park, while Widnes were 16-0 behind against Wigan Warriors – having had Patrick Ah Van sent-off – but rallied to draw 22-22.
“I was really impressed,” Sinfield said of Vikings’ first performance. “I’m impressed by the things their coach Denis Betts is doing there.
“He is someone I have a lot of time for, as a player and now a head coach.
“They are a club I admire because they are improving and getting steadily better every year. I have tipped them to be one of the dark horses to watch this year.
“They’ve got some fantastic players, they will certainly cause us a big threat and the commitment they’ve got, to claw back the deficit against Wigan, is very, very good.
“They’ve had a couple of extra days to get their bodies right, but we’re pretty fresh at the moment and we’re certainly looking forward to the game, which hopefully will be another entertaining one.”