ROB BURROW has described Leeds Rhinos’ shock play-off defeat by Catalan Dragons as one of the lowest moments of his career.
Rhinos’ hopes of adding the First Utility Super League trophy to their Tetley’s Challenge Cup success were shattered at the first hurdle when Catalan snatched a last-gasp 24-20 win at Headingley Carnegie two days ago.
It was the French team’s maiden win away to Leeds and the first time Rhinos have crashed out of the play-offs in week one since 2006.
Burrow, a six-time Grand Final winner, described the defeat as “devastating”.
He said: “Obviously we’ve been in situations when we’ve not reached the final before, but this one seems the most unexpected.
“That’s no disrespect to Catalan, we knew we were in for a tough fight, but to go out in the first round of the play-offs, you don’t train that week thinking this could be the last week at training. We are shocked and really disappointed, obviously.”
Rhinos now have the entire winter to dwell on their 11th defeat of the campaign.
“It’s a weird one,” Burrow added. “The first thing you want to do after a loss is get things put right in training and move on and play the next team.
“But it’s over and it’s a strange feeling. It hasn’t really dawned on us that the season’s over, but that’s the risk when you come to knockout play-offs.
“That’s something we usually thrive on, but we didn’t quite have it this time. It’s devastating.
“We have had highs and lows – winning the Challenge Cup was a high and this is a real low. The one in 2006, when we lost to Warrington by a drop goal, was similar. We have been knocked out a few times in the semi-finals, but this is a weird one.” Catalan’s winning try came off an error by Leeds winger Tom Briscoe, but Burrow said: “I don’t think the game was won or lost on that at all.
“There were loads of dropped balls and mistakes in there. That wasn’t the reason, we just didn’t do enough.
“We can’t blame anybody apart from the team performance. Credit to Catalan, they were a good side and we expected no different, but we usually do have enough and we usually do raise the bar in play-offs, but we didn’t really do that.”
Leeds lost all their four games following the Cup final victory over Castleford, but Burrow said: “Wigan showed last year that the double can be done. We put a lot into the Cup win. It’s no excuse, but it obviously did have an effect.
“But that’s way, way back and we have moved on. It was a factor, but it’s not the reason.”