DEFENDING CHAMPIONS Leeds Rhinos have taken a step in the right direction, despite their losing start to the new campaign.
That is the message from England forward Brett Ferres, who made his competitive debut in last week’s 12-10 defeat by visitors Warrington Wolves.
It was the first occasion Rhinos have lost their opening Super League game since Wakefield Trinity Wildcats beat them at Headingley in 2000 and only the third time in the competition’s 21-year history.
Defeat at home in their first match was a blow for Rhinos in what is expected to be a tight race for places in the top-eight and leading four, but Ferres reckons they will benefit from having been involved in an intense game which could have gone either way.
Ferres said: “It was everything we expected.
“It was the first game, both sides have had a big pre-season and wanted to make their mark on the start of Super League.
“It was a tough one. The game went for a good 80 minutes and a solid 80 minutes and both sides will have got a lot out of it.
“It was disappointing to get beaten at the end, but it was a step in the right direction.”
Warrington are aiming to repeat Leeds’ feat of last year, going from sixth spot in the table to top the following season.
They included six debutants and produced an outstanding defensive display, withstanding a huge amount of pressure in both halves.
Rhinos had most of the territory and possession in the opening period, but went in at the break 6-0 adrift.
Two tries edged them ahead in the third-quarter, but Warrington rallied before a late penalty miss cost Leeds a share of the points.
Ferres admitted Rhinos would have expected to make more of their possession, but believes they will get sharper as the year goes on.
He added: “There was a bit of rustiness.
“It is one of those things, it is very early in the season.
“There were a lot of positives and a few negatives as well.
“We will just concentrate on the positives and move on to this week.”
Ferres began his career with Bradford Bulls a decade ago and also had spells at West Yorkshire rivals Wakefield and Castleford Tigers before joining Leeds from Huddersfield Giants, for an undisclosed fee, in December.
“I really enjoyed it,” he said of his competitive debut in blue and amber.
“The crowd were fantastic, they all got behind me and supported me, which is great. “I got a good 80 minutes under my belt and got through a lot of work, which was pleasing.”
The game’s four tries were shared, but Warrington’s Kurt Gidley landed both his conversion attempts while Zak Hardaker missed with his second and also a late penalty, which could have stolen a draw.
Ferres insisted: “Everyone misses kicks and everyone makes errors, it is just one of those things that happen.”
Rhinos have a long turnaround to their second game, away to Widnes Vikings on Sunday.
Widnes beat Leeds at Select Security Stadium last year and Ferres is expecting another tough encounter in Rhinos’ final game before the World Club Challenge showdown with Australian champions North Queensland Cowboys.
“They are always very strong at home,” Ferres said of Widnes, who play on an artificial surface.
“They know their pitch very well, but we have 10 days to prepare for it. We will have a good week in training and hopefully we’ll go there and get a better performance.”