WORLD’S BEST Winger Ryan Hall admits it will be a huge disappointment if Leeds Rhinos finish the season outside First Utility Super League’s top-four.
Three successive defeats have seen the new Tetley’s Challenge Cup holders tumble to sixth place on the league ladder ahead of tonight’s trip to Wigan Warriors.
If Rhinos don’t climb the table, this season would be their worst since the first Super League campaign in 1996, when they were 10th – third from bottom – and spent most of the year fighting against relegation.
That was the only time in the summer era Rhinos have finished outside the top-five and, after being among the leading trio for most of the year, Hall said they need to get back to winning ways to build confidence for the play-offs.
Second place is still possible if Rhinos win their two remaining games and other results go in their favour, but Hall conceded: “We want to finish higher than we are.
“It would be disappointing to finish sixth, considering we started the year well and the dominance we’ve had throughout the year, in stages.
“To finish sixth, if you rewound 12 weeks we would be scratching our heads and wondering how we finished there. But it is a big job on now, trying to finish in the top-four.”
Wigan are also struggling for form, with only one win in their previous four league matches, while Hall reckons Rhinos have been lifted by last week’s performance in the 13-12 loss to St Helens, after Joel Moon was sent-off in the first half.
Hall said: “The fight we had against Saints was tough.
“We were up against a top team with 12 men for 60 minutes, so we can take the spirit we showed throughout last week into Wigan.
“It’s a very important game for us and for Wigan.
“They’ve labelled it as The Big One as part of their marketing plan and in reality it will go a long way towards deciding who is going to finish in the top half of the eight, that we are all striving to get into.
“First is out of our reach now, so we’ve got to concentrate on finishing in the best possible position going into the play-offs, which is obviously in the top-four.”
Rhinos complete their regular season away to Hull a week today and Hall added: “We have got two tough games.
“Hull will be interested as well.They can’t get into the top-eight now, but you always get a tricky game when you play Hull.
“We have beaten both of them this year, but Wigan have beaten us as well so we aren’t taking anything for granted.
“It is almost a play-off mentality we have got already.”