EVER-PRESENT FORWARD Carl Ablett says Leeds Rhinos won’t be holding back in the next three games, despite Wembley looming on the horizon.
Ablett insisted nobody in the team will waste time worrying about getting injured ahead of the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup final showdown with Hull KR in 22 days’ time.
Leeds have already lost Liam Sutcliffe and Jamie Jones-Buchanan to season-ending injuries and Jamie Peacock and Danny McGuire have missed out after being hurt in games leading up to recent finals.
A physical clash is expected when Rhinos take on visitors Warrington Wolves in their opening First Utility Super-8s fixture tonight, but Ablett stressed: “You can’t think about those things (injuries).
“As soon as you get on the pitch you are that involved in the game you don’t think about it, you just think about your role. The competitive nature of a player is you want to do your best and you want to win each little battle and each game you play in.
“I’ve never got that when people say ‘are you thinking about two or three weeks’ time’?
“As soon as you cross that line you don’t think about what’s coming up.
“Once you are in the game, you are that involved you can’t afford to think about anything else.
“I don’t think any player would or could, especially with the way the new format is this year.
“You have got to be focused anyway, there’s seven tough games in the Super-8s and we’ll have to be good for every single one of them.”
Ablett said Rhinos are determined to avoid of last year, when they fell away in Super League last year after reaching the Challenge Cup semi-finals.
Leeds began the Super-8s with a one-point advantage at the head of the table and Ablett said:“We’ve still got a job to do in the league.
“We’ve learned a bit from last year.
“These are big games now and we need to be good. We’ve worked hard all year to be top going into the Super-8s and it’s really important we continue and keep performing well.
“Training has been good this week and we’ve been bouncing into it. It has got more intense as the week has gone on and we’re looking forward to the game.
“We don’t want a repeat of what happened last year, but I think the squad’s in a lot better shape.
“Barring a couple of injuries the squad is pretty fresh and fit. We can afford to rest a few blokes if necessary and there’s a few players pushing for a place in the team, which makes everyone else perform better.
“We are approaching (tonight’s) game knowing we’ve got to win. We want to keep top spot and we want to win as many things as we can this year.
“We have been good all year. In previous years we’ve had dodgy performances, but this year we’ve been pretty consistent and hopefully that can continue.”
Warrington are in confident mood, according to coach Tony Smith. He said: “It’s tough going to Headingley to get the prize, but we’ve done it before and we’re going there feeling as though we can do it again. We’ll go there and hopefully play the way we want to play and make it uncomfortable for Leeds.”