Results have become more important than results for Leeds Rhinos with just seven games of the regular season remaining.
Rhinos are fourth in the table, but could drop two places if they lose at home to Wakefield Trinity Wildcats tonight and other results go against them.
Despite winning the title from fifth in each of the past two years, Rhinos have targeted a top-four finish and boss Brian McDermott is aware they can’t afford many more slip-ups.
Leeds turned in an outstanding performance at Warrington Wolves a fortnight ago, but were beaten by a drop goal in the final minute.
And the coach said: “We’ve got to get some results – the performance bit is for the first third of the season. You’ve got to make sure you are playing to a system and a structure that you can carry forward next week, but you can’t focus solely on performance. I am a big fan of performance versus the result argument, but there comes a point when you need to chalk up some wins and make sure you finish in a position where you are strong enough to finish in the play-offs and do well in the play-offs.”
But McDermott insisted he is not looking at the league table. He added: “I can stare at it all I want, but we’ve got to make sure we play well each week.
“I don’t like the thought process that says we’ll ease off that particular game so we’re strong in that particular one.
“A club like Leeds Rhinos should be aiming to perform and play well and win every game they are engaged in. Our mantra is not to ease off in certain games so we can be good in other ones. We want to be as far up the ladder as we can be.”
Neither Rhinos nor Wakefield had a game last weekend.
McDermott said: “We didn’t have a week off. Some players came in, quite a few of them had work to do, but I am sure they will benefit from not playing last weekend.”
He added: “I am not really bothered about Wakefield with the situation we’ve got at the moment. It is all about us.
“Wakefield don’t concern me, it really is about what we’ve got to do with the people we’ve got out.
“The team we’ve got on the field need to make sure we do what we plan to do.”
Rhinos face Wildcats again next Friday in a rearranged game, but McDermott stated: “We aren’t saving anything up – we’re not going to use one system one week and hit them with another the following week.”
Knee injury victims Kylie Leuluai and Brett Delaney have both been named in Rhinos’ initial 19 for the first time in a month and fellow forward Brad Singleton is included despite suffering a hamstring injury at Warrington.
Mitch Achurch suffered knee damage in that game and is facing up to another six weeks on the sidelines and five other key players remain on the casualty list.
“In terms of spirit within the camp and where we feel we can get to, everybody’s positive,” McDermott said.
“But we are also aware that we’re down to the bare bones. There’s nobody left out of the team. It is just one of those situations.”