THERE has been some mitigation for Liam Sutcliffe’s lesser performances this season but the Leeds Rhinos stand-off insists that can no longer be the case.
Having helped his side to a much-needed win over Hull FC last week, his input will be crucial if the struggling champions are to back that up with another victory at St Helens this evening.
Sutcliffe has been ever-present if not always at his best with the aforementioned mitigation being the fact he only returned from a knee reconstruction in January.
Having missed most of last season because of that injury, it is understandable the 21-year-old – one of the most exciting young British players around – needed time to rediscover his rhythm.
It is just unfortunate his rehabilitation coincided with Leeds’s dismal start to the year in which the treble-winners won just two of their opening 10 games.
But on that contributory factor, the 21-year-old said: “I think I have got past that now. I think it’s down to me and I just need to keep working hard at my game.
“If I keep improving I know what type of player I can be.
“I was out for a long time, but that’s in the past.
“I just want to try and improve my game and really get back to the form I know I can show.”
St Helens, the latest side to lose to Catalans last week, were the opponents in one of those two paltry wins beforehand but Sutcliffe hopes that victories will now start flowing once more after four successive defeats.
“It is always good coming in after a win,” he said. “Everyone is in high spirits and we just want to kick on now and try and get back-to-back victories.
“But Saints away is going to be a very tough game. It was at Headingley a few weeks ago and we are expecting a tough test.
“We know what type of side Saints are; they are always going to come at you. You can never write them off.
“I thought they did really well to get a win at Warrington the other week and are going to be really tough to beat at their place but, hopefully, we can do it.”
Saints, meanwhile, are set to welcome back Jonny Lomax, their gifted but luckless full-back who has played just four league games in 20 months after requiring not one but two knee reconstructions of his own.