THE WIN over St Helens, with an under-strength team, showed how far Leeds Rhinos have come in the past 12 months, forward Adam Cuthbertson reckons.
Leeds’ 24-22 victory was achieved without injured players Ashton Golding, Rob Burrow, Brett Delaney, Jimmy Keinhorst and Brett Ferres, plus Danny McGuire and Jamie Jones-Buchanan who were suspended.
They also lost Liam Sutcliffe to injury in the first half.
Cuthbertson described it as “a great win for us” and he said: “Look at us this time last year when we had some senior members of the team missing – we capitulated a bit.
“I think a year on, now those young kids have got some games under their belt and being there during those tough times we went through last year has really helped us moving forward.
“I think the likes of Jordan Lilley going to Bradford on loan and playing week-in and week-out there has really helped him, which is great.
“They don’t go there to mope about and kick stones, they go there and play every week and work on their game so when they do get the call-up here they are ready to go and play some good rugby.”
Cuthbertson reckons having a former Australian Test scrum-half at Bradford has been a huge boost for Lilley.
“Geoff [Toovey] being there, as an old half himself, has probably helped him too,” he said.
“I was under Geoff at Manly and he’s a great coach.
“He’s very football-minded, he knows how to naturally play the game, more so than being overly tactical.
“He had me all the way through my juniors and helped me a lot.”
Cuthbertson has also been impressed with 17-year-old full-back Jack Walker, who was Leeds’ man of the match against Saints.
He said: “He has come into the team and done really well.
“He is one of those kids who I don’t think understands what pressure is.
“He just goes for it and it’s great to see. He is very mature for his age.
“He is very strong, he has got that natural strength and he is very elusive on his feet.
“He was outstanding last week.”
Rhinos had the weekend off and are now preparing for Sunday’s trip to Salford Red Devils, who leaped over them into second place in Betfred Super League following a 36-20 win over Huddersfield Giants two days ago.
“They have been playing really well,” Cuthbertson said of Salford. “They are playing with good shape and structure as a team. It should be a tough one. It will be a good challenge for us going over there, playing a good team away.”
Meanwhile, Cuthbertson confirmed he wasn’t injured when taken off early in the first half against Saints.
“I just had a breather,” said the Australian who is ever-present for Rhinos this year. “I had a bit of a knock on the wrist, but nothing too bad.”