THE CATASTROPHIC home defeat by Castleford Tigers has not changed chief executive Gary Hetherington’s mind about the best way forward for Leeds Rhinos.
Hetherington wrote to fans earlier in the week urging them to stay behind the team and pledging not to make wholesale changes in the wake of Rhinos’ disastrous run of form.
Last year’s treble winners slumped to a new low on Thursday night when they were crushed 52-12 by Castleford Tigers at Headingley.
Leeds have conceded more points at home only four times in the club’s history and they remain bottom of First Utility Super League, six points outside the top-eight with only nine games remaining in the regular season.
Fans voiced their anger during the match two days ago, with some leaving at half-time when Rhinos trailed 34-6 and pressure is mounting for changes to be made to the coaching and/or playing staff.
But Hetherington insisted he is sticking to his guns and he told The Yorkshire Evening Post: “Nothing changes from the letter.”
Said the Leeds chief: “It was hugely disappointing for Rhinos fans, players and everybody else associated with the club.
“We recognise it was an outstanding performance from Castleford, they came out with a near-perfect performance and obviously deserved the win.
“That is the situation we are in, but I thought the fans were great.
“The support the team had was terrific and we all realise we need to be doing better.”
Asked if the current squad and staff can turn things around, Hetherington stressed: “You would think so, they don’t become bad players overnight in terms of the quality in the squad and the talent of the players. “We need to get more bodies back and hopefully we will soon do that.”
Hetherington admitted there has been a “drop in confidence” among the team, who have won only three of 15 competitive games so far this year.
“All the players have been in [yesterday] and nobody is more disappointed than the players, myself and the coaching staff,” Hetherington stated.
“They recognise they have got to provide the answers at the end of the day.”
Meanwhile, Tigers boss Daryl Powell – a former Leeds player and coach – believes Rhinos should not lose faith.
Leeds are set to go from top in 2015 to bottom of the table this year, but Powell feels their season is not a lost cause.
“You don’t expect to get away from Leeds like that,” said Powell, who admitted he was surprised by the margin of victory.
“We thought there was a score in the team, the way we play. It things do click, there is a score in us.
“It could have been a few more, there were a couple of long-range efforts in the second half we didn’t finish, due to Leeds’ scrambling defence.
“You have got to give credit to them, they kept working.
“We were obviously too good for them on the night, but they scrambled back and stopped us a fair few times.
“That shows there is a lot of spirit at the club.
“It’s not nice to see when a team’s struggling like they are at the moment.”