Leeds Rhinos: Pitch not to blame for injuries at the Vikings – Ablett

Johnathan Thurston.
Johnathan Thurston.
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I MENTIONED last week how many injuries there were in the opening games of the season.

I should probably have kept that thought to myself – because two days later I joined the list.

At the time of writing I have just had a scan and I am waiting for the results, but signs are it is not as bad as first feared.

Weird is probably the best word to describe what happened last week. We lost three players with right-ankle injuries in the space of 15 minutes and I have never seen anything like that before.

Tom Briscoe went off and he was in the changing rooms when I hobbled in five minutes later and then five minutes after that young Ashton Golding joined us.

It was strange and it definitely kept the physios busy. What happened to me was, Kevin Brown came back across the line and stepped off his left foot.

I planted my right foot and it seemed to buckle. I don’t know exactly what caused it, but I went forward on it and it just seemed to give way.

The other two were both contact injuries, but there was nobody around me.

With us picking up three injuries in one game – or in 15 minutes – people have been asking if the plastic pitch was to blame.

I honestly don’t think so. Tom’s and Ashton’s injuries came when they were involved in tackles and they could have happened at any time.

As for me, it was just one of those freak things.

The same applies to the result. There are no excuses, we were too soft defensively and it was a really poor performance.

We started poorly and we were 16-0 down before Tom got hurt, so I don’t even think the injuries were a factor.

It was a sign of what Super League is like now. They are all tough games and if you are a bit off and you don’t go in with the right attitude, the chances are you will lose.

Every team has got stronger and you have to be on your mettle or you get punished. Full credit to Widnes, who are in good form and played really well.

They deserved their win and with Salford beating Saints last week as well, it shows it is going to be a really competitive Super League this year.

A result like that hurts and it was the last thing we wanted ahead of a massive game this weekend.

It has been a long few days and we had to endure a tough video session at the start of the week, but it is how you bounce back that counts.

It was a tough one to take, but we learned a few valuable lessons when we went through the video and hopefully we can put those into practice on Sunday.

Conceding that number of points is really disappointing and if we had the chance we would have gone out and played again the following day, because when something like that happens all you want to do is put things right straight away.

We didn’t want to go into the World Club Challenge on the back of two defeats, but I don’t think there are any massive issues; we can fix things up and we are going to have to do that this week against the Australian champions.

I thought the World Club Series last year was really good to watch and this one will be the same.

Three very good sides have come over, but they are going to be up against three good teams who want to show what Super League is all about.

North Queensland are obviously a fantastic side with quality players all over the field. Johnathan Thurston is their star man, but they have got a strong pack and lots of speed, so we will have to be good in all areas.

It is a massive challenge, but that is what we enjoy and it is the sort of situation that has brought the best out of us in the past.

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I WANT to make special mention of the fans who travelled over to Widnes last week.

It was a rough journey getting there, because of problems on the M62, and we weren’t able to reward them with a win or a performance to be proud of.

But I thought the support we got from start to finish was brilliant and, talking to the other boys after the game, they all felt the same.

It is easy to make a lot of noise when things are going well, but the fans last Sunday never stopped encouraging us and we all really appreciated it.

Whatever was wrong last week wasn’t lack of effort. Every single player was trying their hardest, but things just didn’t go our way.

It is difficult at the moment with the injuries and results going against us, but please stick with us.

We are doing everything we can to turn things around and we will come good sooner rather than later. It is going to be a near full-house on Sunday and I don’t think the Cowboys will have experienced anything like a packed Headingley in full voice at a floodlit game.

I am sure we will get great support and that could make a big difference. We will be doing our very best to make it a memorable night.

Jermaine McGillvary in action against Papua New Guinea.

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