Leeds Rhinos: Refreshed Rhinos are raring to go says Ablett

Carl Ablett.
Carl Ablett.
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ENGLAND star Carl Ablett says Leeds Rhinos are “refreshed” and ready to kick-start their season.

The ever-present second-row admits a rare break has come at the right time for a squad who have won just two of their last seven First Utility Super League games.

They host Hull FC on Sunday having had some time off following last Thursday’s 31-24 defeat to Castleford Tigers, a result that ultimately saw them lose top spot.

“We’ve got away from the place for a few days, tried to freshen up a little bit – both mentally and physically – and treat it almost like a mini-break,” said Ablett.

“The lads trained on Tuesday and everyone was bouncing. That went really well and we’re back in Thursday ready to push on to the game and start putting a bit of form together.”

For all Leeds’ form has dipped, they do remain just a point behind new leaders St Helens who take on Castleford themselves tonight.

Ablett believes they can return to their brilliant early-season form if they fine-tune a couple of aspects of their play.

“We have to perform at a higher intensity,” he said.

“We weren’t actually that poor against Cas but we definitely can’t give teams soft tries like we have over the last few week. We’ve a few things to fix up but we’re working flat out now to do that ready for Hull.”

Hull are looking to strike back after their own setback – a 20-14 defeat in Perpignan – although their form beforehand had been excellent with eight wins from 10 games.

“They’ve had a funny year, too,” added Ablett.

“They lost a few at the start but they weren’t losing by many points at all.

“When we played them last it was a real tough game and it was only in the second half when things clicked for us.

“They have strike all over the pitch, a big forward pack and I’m sure they’ll look at what we’ve been doing recently and come here confident of putting down a marker.”

Hull actually led 12-0 at half-time at the KC Stadium in March before conceding an astonishing 43 unanswered points in the second period when ruthless Leeds produced arguably their best 40 minutes of the entire season.

Rhinos fans will be wanting more of the latter on Sunday especially as their side will want some confidence to take into the following week’s game – when they head to Hull in the Challenge Cup quarter-finals.

Ablett, 29, said: “It’s happened a few times in recent years where we’ve doubled up against the same side in the cup like this, playing the same opponents in successive weeks.

“Preparation won’t be too different for next week but we do know what our mentality has to be like.

“It’s the Challenge Cup and we all know what that means – no second chances.

“We won it last year but we all want to go back to Wembley and do it again so that means we cannot afford another off-day.

“We have to learn from our mistakes and push on.”

Luke Gale celebrates his team-mates after the victory over Salford. Picture: Matthew Merrick.

Carl Ablett: Castleford Tigers deserve to be top after a regular season to savour