COMEBACK kings Leeds Rhinos need a rapid improvement to make it two wins from two, according to half-back Rob Burrow.
Rhinos travel to Hull tomorrow night and Burrow believes a repeat of their performance in last Sunday’s season-opening 32-28 victory over Bradford Bulls won’t be good enough.
Leeds conceded five touchdowns and needed a last-gasp penalty try to seal a comeback win against a team who – like Hull – finished outside the top-eight last term.
“Obviously we need to improve,” Burrow stated. “We weren’t perfect, by a long shot.
“There’s no easy games any more, those days – when you got a game you were guaranteed to win – have gone.
“That’s why we need to be better this week.
“We need to work on things. We were a bit rusty and match fitness isn’t 100 per cent there yet for any teams, but it is early days and we were pleased to start with a win.”
Rhinos made a succession of mistakes in the early stages of the Millennium Stadium derby, as Bulls powered into a 28-10 lead.
But Burrow said the final 17 minutes – when Leeds scored four unanswered tries – illustrated the attacking talent in the team and he insisted they won’t rein in their free-flowing style.
“We want to play football this year,” he stressed. “We have got a lot of highly-skilled players in the team and that’s one of our best assets. We will be looking to play some decent stuff this season.”
Of last weekend’s match, Burrow added: “It was a typical Leeds-Bradford game. There was lots of excitement and last-minute drama, but we were just happy with the result.
“The performance wasn’t perfect, but a lot of that is down to how good Bradford were. Credit to them, they stuck to their game plan and worked a lot of set plays, which they scored their tries from.”
Rhinos players talked throughout the off-season about the “spirit” in the camp and Burrow feels their late rally underlined that.
“We are a fighting bunch,” he said. “We don’t like to give in, whatever the score is.
“Fortunately we have got players who can produce special plays at times and they did that on Saturday.”
The scorer of a crucial try in Rhinos’ dramatic fightback, Burrow will celebrate the 10th anniversary of his Super League debut in two months’ time.
The 28-year-old has played 295 senior games for Leeds, but he said his enthusiasm is as strong as ever.
“I can’t wait for the rest of the season,” he said. “I’m really enjoying things and I’m hoping to have a good year. I was injured a lot last year and I wasn’t really happy with it, but I am really looking forward to this season and I am raring to go.”
Meanwhile, Weller Hauraki is poised to make his Rhinos debut in tomorrow’s game at Hull after his visa arrived this week.
Lee Smith – who had had a hamstring problem and wasn’t selected last Sunday – is also included in Rhinos’ initial 19, along with Ryan Bailey, who missed the Bradford game due to a groin problem and Paul McShane.
Ali Lauitiiti suffered a badly cut mouth last week and drops out, along with fellow back-rower Jay Pitts (shin). He could feature for Rhinos’ under-20s in their season opener against Hull at Hull Ionians on Saturday (2.30pm).
Rhinos’ initial 19 is: Webb, Smith, Delaney, Senior, Hall, Burrow, Leuluai, Buderus, Jones-Buchanan, Ablett, Sinfield, Cross, Bailey, Kirke, Burgess, Watkins, Hauraki, Jones-Bishop, McShane.
lFijiian international Daryl Millard yesterday became the third player to leave troubled Wakefield in as many days when he signed for Catalan Dragons.
The 25-year-old centre is the latest player to be sold by the administrators running the Wildcats.
lBatley Bulldogs forward Jason Walton has been banned for two matches and fined £50 after the RFL Disciplinary Committee found him guilty of a Grade C dangerous throw in his side’s Northern Rail Cup defeat by Leigh.
Batley scrum-half Paul Mennell escaped suspension when he was found guilty of a Grade B reckless tackle in the same match because the panel ruled that sending-off was sufficient punishment.
Batley’s Co-op Championship derby at Dewsbury has been switched to Thursday, April 21, kick-off 6pm for Sky coverage.