AUSTRALIAN RECRUIT Adam Cuthbertson admits it is difficult to assess tomorrow’s opening opponents, but he reckons if Leeds Rhinos get their own game right they will be a tough team to beat.
For the second successive season Rhinos visit KC Lightstream Stadium, Craven Park, in First Utility Super League round one, but they will face a far different Hull KR side to the one beaten 34-6 last February.
The home team have made 13 signings in the off-season, including former Rhinos prop Ryan Bailey, replacing 14 players from their 2014 squad.
That means Rhinos are in the dark as to what they will be up against, but according to Cuthbertson, the key thing is to ensure they concentrate on their own performance rather than focusing on what their opponents might do.
“I knew a few of the Hull KR boys, but all the ones I knew seem to have left,” Cuthbertson said.
“I played with Mick Weyman at the (St George)Dragons and he is a handful.
“I know what it’s like to play against him and with him, but I don’t know too much about the rest of them, though we have had a look at them this week.
“But – it’s an old cliche – we will be concentrating on ourselves.
“First and foremost, I know if personally I get my game right and I go into the game with good prep’ and whatnot I tend to play a lot better than if I’m sitting around worrying about the opposition.
“At the end of the day, I have got to control what I do best and then take it on to the field with me.
“I think it applies to the team as well.
“We are the type of team that if we worry about what we do well, everything will just work.”
After two months of training, Cuthbertson is raring to go.
“I’m looking forward to it,” said the former Newcastle Knights forward.
“I’ve been doing the training, prior to Christmas and leading up to the first trial and although I’ve played a couple of games there’s a lot more riding on the actual competition.
“Now we’ve got to take everything we’ve worked on in training and pre-season and put it into practice in the competition and hopefully we can get off to a good start.”
The Aussie has already had a taste of English rugby league in the Boxing Day game against Wakefield Trinity Wildcats and when Rhinos faced Bradford Bulls for Jamie Peacock’s testimonial last month.
“They were quite competitive,” he said of the warm-up matches. “I suppose more so in the second trial, when we played Bradford.
“We wanted to do right by JP, as it was his day.
“We didn’t want to go out there and slacken off and make the game nothing.
“I really enjoyed the trials, but the competition is more important.
“You want to get the points every week and start the season off on the front foot. You can’t afford to fall behind at any stage, especially with the new competition this year. We will have to be on our guard. Every team is going to be out for us this year and just because the way the competition is, the two points are vital.
“With the way the competition is set up, you don’t want to be chasing come the semi-finals or anything like that.”
Rhinos have had the majority of their squad in training since November and were unbeaten in their five pre-season matches.
Only second-row Brett Delaney – who suffered an ankle injury during last month’s training camp in Florida – was not considered for selection for tomorrow’s opener and Cuthbertson feels Leeds are going into the season in good shape.
“The boys keep talking about it being one of the longer pre-seasons they’ve done in a while,” he said. “They’ve had such short pre-seasons in the past, with boys away with England.
“Coming from the way Australian teams base their pre-seasons, I know the more time you can get into a pre-season helps that bit more.
“You have chance to get to know how each other’s play a bit more and get that bit more fitness. You get a lot of muscle memory practice in when you get a long pre-season, so I think we’re going to benefit from that, coming into the year.”
Cuthbertson has been in England since the start of December and so far, his move has lived up to all his expectations.
“I’ve been enjoying it,” he said. “The boys have been great, the club has been great and the fans I’ve met have been great. I’ve just got to pay them back with wins now, that’s the biggest thing.”
Cuthbertson, 29, has joined Rhinos on a four-year deal, after 138 National Rugby League appearances with Manly, Cronulla, St George and Newcastle.
Meanwhile, Rhinos’ Good Friday, April 3, derby at Castleford Tigers will kick off at 12.45pm for live coverage on Sky Sports.
Hull KR from: Allgood, Bailey, Blair, Burke, Campese, Carlile, Cockayne, Dixon, Donaldson, Goulding, Green, Horne, Kelly, Mantellato, McCarthy, Sio, Walker, Welham, Weyman.
Leeds Rhinos from: Hardaker, T Briscoe, Watkins, Moon, Hall, McGuire, Burrow, Leuluai, Aiton, Peacock, Jones-Buchanan, Ablett, Sinfield, S Ward, Achurch, Cuthbertson, Sutcliffe, Singleton, Walters.
Referee: Ben Thaler.
Kick-off: Tomorrow, 3pm.