LEEDS RHINOS will have to be prepared for bomb disposal duty when they face Hull KR at Headingley tonight, Stevie Ward has warned.
Rovers kicked themselves into a 30-16 lead in First Utility Super League round one, before Leeds hit back to win 40-30.
The visitors will be without scrum-half Albert Kelly, who scored a brace of tries in the sides’ previous meeting, but stand-off Terry Campese is one of the most in-form players in the competition and Ward said Rhinos are aware of the threat he will pose. “They had an excellent win against Wigan in the Cup last week,” Ward said of this evening’s opponents.
“Any team that beats Wigan, when you’ve got them the next week you need to be on top of your game.
“Even then, you can’t take anything for granted. Wigan were on top of their game, they didn’t take their foot off the gas and Hull KR beat them.
“They have got a lot of strike, they play really off-the-cuff rugby and Terry Campese links them together and plays really well behind their forwards.
“He is one of those players I watched as a youngster. I have got a lot of respect for the way he played at Canberra Raiders and it will be a big task for us.
“In the first game they showed how dangerous they can be and we have got to concentrate, that is one of the big things we have got to focus on.
“On a Friday night at Headingley we are usually switched on, but Hull KR can put points on you with their kicking game and that’s something they will look at after we conceded so many tries through kicks last time.
“We have to be 100 per cent all through the game.”
Rhinos have not won in their last three league games, but will open a four-point lead over second-placed Wigan Warriors - who face a tricky fixture away to Catalans Dragons tomorrow - if they win tonight.
Last Saturday’s 48-16 Challenge Cup success against Huddersfield Giants, who boast the best defensive record in Super League, got Rhinos back in the winner’s circle and Ward said confidence in the camp is high.
“There was no room for error last week, it was desperation from a lot of players,” he reflected.
“I was really keen for us to get through, I want to see us at Wembley again. After a dip in form, games like that can change things for you.
“Every team has a dip here and there and the last three weeks was ours. Confidence is good, we have got a lot of good things going on in training and hopefully we can play the same way.”
Ward - who had a tough two years after suffering a dislocated shoulder away to Hull KR in April, 2013 - has been one of the top performers in Rhinos’ pack this season.
His ability to break the line and defensive work-rate have played a big part in Rhinos’ climb to the top of the table, but he said: “In the last couple of games my tackle count has been a bit lower.
“That’s probably good, because I have got a bit more to offer in offense. But if I can get things right and make some tackles and that means our half-backs can use their strengths in attack, that’s good.
“Being up there in the tackle counts has brought a lot more confidence back to my defensive game.”