SCRUM-HALF Rob Burrow reckons Sunday’s visit of Hull KR is a massive game for Leeds Rhinos, irrespective of recent results.
The East Yorkshire side are aiming to complete a second successive Engage Super League double over Leeds – who have conceded 42 points in each of their last two matches.
A third straight loss could see Rhinos drop a place to seventh on the table – if Castleford Tigers beat Wigan Warriors – and increase the pressure on coach Brian McDermott and his players.
But Burrow reckons even if Leeds had won their last two games, they would still regard tomorrow evening’s showdown as one they must win.
“It is a big game, regardless of the last couple of results,” Burrow stressed. “Hull KR have beaten us the last three times we’ve played them, so we need to play well against them anyway.
“The fact we have got beaten quite heavily in our last two games is extra incentive.”
Rhinos trailed only 12-6 at half-time against Warrington Wolves a fortnight ago, before conceding 30 second half points without replay. Last weekend, St Helens’ interval advantage was just 6-4, but Leeds lost the second period 36-12.
“We have been in the games at half-time and we’ve been competitive, if not the better team,” Burrow said.
“In big games you need to start well and we have been doing that, but we haven’t been able to stay with the opposition in the second half, which is worrying.
“We are doing some things right, but a lot wrong. We have been working on putting things right, we are looking at certain areas we can improve and that is something we need to do on Sunday.
“We’ve not only got to improve, we have got to play confidently, because we can’t go into the game in a negative frame of mind.”
Five Rhinos players were on duty in last night’s inaugural International Origin match, with Ryan Hall, Kevin Sinfield and Jamie Peacock all involved for England and Danny Buderus and Kylie Leuluai representing Exiles.
They have all been away in camp with their respective sides this week, along with Jamie Jones-Buchanan, who was England’s 18th man.
“That’s not made it hard,” Burrow insisted. “We have got a great squad and players who can fill in.
“We have prepared well and we have had a good week.”
Burrow is likely to start alongside stand-off Danny McGuire in Leeds’ halves tomorrow.
The defeat at Saints eight days ago saw them team-up for the first time since McGuire suffered a serious knee injury last September, but Burrow is confident it won’t take long before the dynamic duo are back up to speed.
“In the first 40 last week the triangle of me, Kev (Sinfield) and Danny was going well,” he said.
“The kicking game was good, but it is hard to play against teams like Warrington and Saints when they put you to the sword with back-to-back sets.
“The continuity wasn’t there last week, because we spent a lot of time behind our own posts.
“We just need to be in an arm wrestle for 80 minutes and you will see the best of the three of us.
“We need to take the opportunity when it comes and hopefully it will come on Sunday.”
Despite the traumas of the past two weeks, Burrow insisted there is a belief in the camp that Rhinos will come good.
“Everybody has been down,” he admitted. “It’s a big part of your life, but the lads are in great spirits. Sport is like this, you have your ups and downs – we hate the feeling when we lose and it’s the best weekend ever when we win.
“The lads are determined to put it right, you could not meet a more determined set of lads. That will all come together at some stage and hopefully it will be this week.”
Both teams could be unchanged from their previous game. McDermott has named all his International Origin players in Leeds’ initial 19 and will select from the players beaten by Saints, plus Ian Kirke and Luke Burgess.
For Rovers, Matt Cook and Liam Watts are added to the team which beat Hull 17-10 last Sunday.
Leeds Rhinos: from Webb, Hardaker, Smith, Delaney, R Hall, McGuire, Burrow, Leuluai, Buderus, Peacock, Jones-Buchanan, Ablett, Sinfield, Lauitiiti, Bailey, Hauraki, McShane, Kirke, Burgess.
Hull KR: from Briscoe, Cockayne, C Hall, Welham, Colbon, Green, Dobson, Vella, Hodgson, Wheeldon, Galea, Lovegrove, Murrell, Netherton, Fisher, Taylor, Newton, Cook, Watts.
Referee: Robert Hicks (Oldham).
Kick-off: Sunday, 6pm.