Robert Lui revelling in right environment at Leeds Rhinos
Recent signing Robert Lui reckons he is in the right environment at Leeds Rhinos to play his best rugby.
The 29-year-old Australian has already made a difference to his new team and boasts a 100 per cent winning record after two appearances.
Lui, signed less than a fortnight ago from Salford Red Devils, was involved in a game-breaking try on debut in the 31-12 home victory against Catalans Dragons and scored the clinching touchdown when Rhinos won 18-10 at Castleford Tigers last Friday.
Those victories have lifted Rhinos from bottom of Betfred Super League to ninth – two points above the relegation zone – ahead of Friday’s crucial home showdown with Hull KR.
Lui is the first experienced, specialist stand-off recruited by Leeds since Danny McGuire left the club two years ago, but the fifth player to occupy the role this season, after Tui Lolohea, Cameron Smith, Liam Sutcliffe and Callum McLelland.
Despite the upturn in results, Lui played down his own part in Rhinos’ mini-revival – and said being around stars of the sport including Leeds’ director of rugby Kevin Sinfield will improve his own personal game.
“At the end of the day, rugby league is still the same – it is a simple game,” he said of settling into a new club.
“I am a bit older and wiser, I have played alongside great players which helps me become better and I’ve also got great players here at the club like Kev.
“The coach, Richard Agar, is great, the staff is good.
“All we have got to do is believe in ourselves and we will take confidence from [last week’s] game.”
Lui’s try at Castleford steadied the ship after Tigers had scored back-to-back touchdowns to cut Leeds’ advantage from 14 to just four points.
Signed primarily for his running and kicking game, he produced some smart footwork to step through the defence from close to the line and recalled: “It was good to score my first try.
“I just backed myself there.
“It was a close game and a derby, my first one.
“It was good to get the win, we hadn’t won there for a while, it was a cracker of a game and it was good for the crowd.”
Though Leeds scored three tries to two, it was their defence that sealed their first win at the Jungle since 2015, the year they lifted all three trophies.
On the back of a hefty penalty count and a series of repeat sets Leeds were under huge pressure for much of the contest, but kept Tigers scoreless in the first half and Lui reckons that was a positive sign for the final eight games of the campaign, six of which are at Emerald Headingley.
Rhinos’ defence has been improving since Agar took interim charge two months ago and Lui said: “Cas are one of the best attacking teams in the comp’ so it was always going to be tough.
“The crowd was behind them, but when you are getting an ear full all you have to do is focus on the person inside you and the person outside you and focus on your tackling.
“It was a game I will cherish for a while because it was my first derby.
“I was happy to get the win for the boys and happy for myself.”
Rhinos will be without prop Brad Singleton for Friday’s game after the Rugby Football League’s match review panel handed him a one-match penalty notice following a foul on Liam Watts in last week’s win.