Leeds Rhinos: We will have to be at top of our game says Sinfield

Kevin Sinfield
Kevin Sinfield
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Only their best will be good enough for Leeds Rhinos in tomorrow’s Tetley’s Challenge Cup blockbuster at home to St Helens.

Skipper Kevin Sinfield reckons it will take a near-perfect effort for Rhinos to get the better of the only team to have beaten them this year.

“In my opinion it’s the tie of the round,” Sinfield said of the clash between the sides first and third on the Super League table.

“It’s two teams in decent form who are desperate for silverware and who, not so long ago, fought out a tough 80 minutes in a game that could have gone either way.

“We are looking forward to it. We all know what the Challenge Cup means to this group and we hope we can perform the best we can.”

The Challenge Cup is Rhinos’ Holy Grail. It is 15 years since they last lifted the trophy and of the current squad, only Jamie Peacock – twice with Bradford Bulls against Leeds – is a Cup winner.

Rhinos have lost the last six finals they have appeared in, including three in successive years from 2010-2012.

That record inevitably gets highlighted whenever a Cup round is looming and Sinfield said: “We have tried every approach – we have tried

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everything. Ultimately it will come down to our performance on Saturday, like in all other big games and knockout games.

“Both teams are littered with stars and there’ll be some individual brilliance, but it is important to play well and for me the team that sticks to the plan best and comes out and performs the best they can will win the game.

“It is inevitable we have to field questions about the Challenge Cup and that’s how it’ll be until this group or this club finally get their hands on that famous trophy again.”

Saints - who won 14-10 when the sides met at Langtree Park last month - are on the back of successive defeats, but Sinfield insisted Rhinos are reading nothing into the visitors’ Easter setbacks against Wigan Warriors and Widnes Vikings.

“We will prepare for a very strong Saints side who we believe will play as well as they can,” he insisted.

“They had the luxury of resting a few on Monday, but as a group we quite like the fact we have some continuity.

“We came through Easter pretty healthy and in decent shape and rather than have a rest I would much prefer to get out there and have a game.

“I think that’s the best preparation we could have. Our approach and what we’ve done over Easter is probably a bit different to them, but the guys all feel ready to play.

“I don’t think the fact Saints have lost their last two matters to us at all. It would be nice if we could make it three.”

Tomorrow’s game will be televised live by the BBC and Sinfield, the England captain, sees it as a great showcase for the sport.

“On the back of the World Cup it is good to have rugby league on the BBC,” he said. “I hope - and I’m pretty sure - Saturday’s game will be an absolute cracker.

“I’m sure the neutrals sat at home watching are in for a fantastic sporting event and hopefully for those who will be in the ground we can continue to have their support, like we’ve had all year and in all my time here.

“It has been magnificent and unwavering through all the difficult Challenge Cup campaigns we’ve had.

“It would be really nice to give the fans something back on Saturday.”

Iestyn Harris.

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