Leeds Rhinos: Pressure’s on us admits Hetherington

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CHAMPIONS LEEDS Rhinos are in a “difficult place”, but chief executive Gary Hetherington has backed the current squad and staff to get out of it.

Rhinos lost successive games over Easter and have won just twice in the opening eight First Utility Super League rounds.

Gary Hetherington.

Gary Hetherington.

They are the lowest scorers in the competition and sit third from bottom going into tomorrow’s visit of Hull KR, who are the team immediately below them.

There were boos from the crowd at the end of East Monday’s home defeat to Wakefield Trinity Wildcats and some fans have taken to social media to protest against boss Brian McDermott, who was last season’s Super League coach of the year.

Hetherington admitted the “pressure” is on.

“With every defeat the pressure intensifies on everyone involved, from the fans through to the players,” he said.

“There’s no doubt we are in a difficult place and we have got a huge challenge to turn things around.

“With that comes a desperation to win, which is very much what we’ve got now.”

Hetherington admitted the manner of Leeds’ defeats this year has been as disappointing as the results themselves.

“It’s not just winning, it’s performing and playing to our potential,” he went on.

“We’ve got a team that’s high on effort, but low on confidence. There’s no magic wand, but we also know things can change very quickly.”

It has been a tough year so far for Rhinos on and off the field.

“We’ve had a lot of adversity to deal with, which started on December 26 with the flooding at our training ground,” the Leeds chief said.

“There’s been a number of challenges, including injuries to key players. But taking that into account, we should still have expected the team to do better than it has done.

“We are where we are and we are looking for a change in position. We have a huge game against Hull KR.

“Neither team got anything out of Easter and there’s a desperation from both teams to win.”

Rhinos are not used to being in this situation, but Hetherington stressed: “We are normally pretty good at managing adversity.

“We usually handle it pretty well. Last year we faced adversity after the Challenge Cup final, but we turned that around and we can do it again, provided everyone pulls in the same direction.

“That is the challenge now and you often learn more about people in adversity – about their commitment and attitude – than when you are winning every week.

“That applies to everyone. It is an interesting and exciting time to be a Rhinos fan because we are facing a different type of challenge, but one of no less importance.”

McDermott said the injuries have given an opportunity to players who would not have featured if Rhinos had a settled side and he claimed the experience will stand them in good stead when Rhinos get through their current tough spell.

“You find out about people in periods of adversity,” he said. “Players who can play well when you are winning 20-0 have to prove they can do it when you have got to win and the rest of the team is low on confidence.”

Asked if there is a need to change the current squad or staff, Hetherington said: “No, we need to get people back available.”

Rob Burrow on the way to scoring for Leeds Rhinos in the 2011 Grand Final.

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