AUSTRALIAN FORWARD Adam Cuthbertson is up front about how important tonight’s derby with Castleford Tigers is to Leeds Rhinos’ season.
Rhinos are bottom of First Utility Super League, five points behind eighth-placed Tigers with just 10 games remaining before the competition splits – and their next three matches after tonight are against teams in the top four.
Last year, Catalans Dragons finished eighth with 20 points.
If that is the benchmark for the final place in the Super-8s, Leeds will need to win seven of their last 10 games in the weekly rounds.
After just three victories from 15 competitive matches so far it is a tall order and Cuthbertson admitted Rhinos are reaching the stage where they can’t afford any more slip-ups.
“Every week is a must-win for us personally as a group,” he stated.
“We don’t ever go out there and want to lose, but this is one of those games that’s set up quite well for us.
“We are at home, against Cas and we owe them one after just going down to them in the final minutes at their home ground.
“They found some form at the weekend, winning their Challenge Cup game, but it’s a big one for us.
“After the disappointment of our Cup loss last week we can definitely put our focus right back on to Super League and almost have a magnified focus on ourselves and where we stand in the comp.”
Cuthbertson insisted Rhinos’ season is still alive, despite the Cup exit and their position at the foot of the table.
If they get into the top-eight they will have an opportunity to influence who reaches the semi-finals, even if a place in the play-offs looks beyond them.
Cuthbertson said: “That’s the beauty of rugby league.
“We are down at the bottom of the competition and we’ve just come off a pretty disappointing Cup loss, but we are still in it, we are still alive.
“I think we showed last year that anything’s possible.
“It’s just a matter of really, really, really putting our mark on the game this week and building from it.”
Cuthbertson made his comeback from an elbow injury, which kept him out for four games, in last Friday’s defeat at Huddersfield Giants.
“It was great to get back on the field,” he said. “I felt really fit and really good.
“Obviously my timing was a bit out but I have spoken to Rob [Burrow] about it because a lot of the little things that went wrong were around me and him.
“I think it’s just him getting used to me being back out there and me getting back out there and finding my feet again.
“We didn’t get to work a lot last week together leading into the game, but we’ve done plenty on the paddock this week to make sure it all works this time.”
Rhinos could have captain Danny McGuire back tonight and Cuthbertson feels that will make a big difference.
McGuire has played just three times this season and the Aussie said: “Having Danny back will be a massive plus for us, not only for the team, but for the likes of myself and Rob and Jordan Lilley and Liam Sutcliffe.
“He has an organising role, setting everyone up and that support play he provides is important for us.”