FORMER Headingley hero Willie Poching is predicting a backlash from Leeds Rhinos at the weekend.
Poching is now assistant coach at Saturday’s opponents Warrington Wolves and he expects Leeds to have all guns blazing after last weekend’s shock home loss to Harlequins.
“I think it was just a hiccup,” said Poching, who joined Warrington last autumn. “Against Bradford in round one and Hull in round two they were very, very good.
“I am sure they will bounce back bigger and stronger.
“They have got enough experienced professionals to help the likes of Kallum Watkins and Ben Jones-Bishop and Chris Clarkson get over the hurdle and bounce back.
“They will be more than up for it. We can’t take too much from the video we’ve seen of the Harlequins game.
“I’ve seen enough of them this year to know they will be as dangerous as ever.”
Poching spent nine seasons at Headingley, as a player from 2002-2006 and then on the coaching staff.
“I suppose there’s a bit of me looking forward to coming up against old friends and the club I spent a bit of time at,” he said.
“But it’s just another game for me, that’s how I need to approach it. I can’t get emotionally attached to the game too much.
“I will be putting the same amount of work in as I have over the last couple of weeks. I won’t be any more or less focused than any other week.”
Poching knows more about Rhinos than most coaches, but said he won’t have any extra input into Warrington’s game plan.
“Everyone who has been involved in Super League for a while knows enough about the Leeds team,” he said.
“Their team has been together for a long time. Brian Mac (McDermott) has added his bit of flavour to them in attack and defence, but it will be jobs as normal this week – we will all be doing the same as we did last week and the week before.
“I won’t have any more input to this game than the last one. I might have a bit more knowledge of the Leeds individuals than most of the Warrington people will, but I would imagine that’ll be the same for my counterpart at Rhinos.”
Ironically, Poching took over at Warrington from James Lowes, who left to become assistant-coach at Leeds.
“We’ve literally swapped offices,” he said. “That’s more coincidental than anything. He had already gone before I came to Warrington. I am sure he’s doing a fantastic job there and I am just doing the best job I can to help Tony Smith and Richard Marshall and help the squad be the best they can be.”
Despite still living in Wakefield, Poching said he is “loving” his new job.
“It has been a refreshing change for me,” he stated. “I spent such a long time at Leeds and I think it was a blessing in disguise to go somewhere else and be in a different environment, working under Tony again.
“He’s a head coach I am learning stuff off again. I am in a group that’s very well settled and they are a fantastic group in terms of working and cameraderie. They are very tight-knit. The travel is a small hurdle, but I am enjoying everything I am doing at the moment.”