Ash Handley backs Leeds Rhinos ’family’ to stick together and end misery

IN-FORM Ash Handley was left deflated after what should have been a memorable evening for the Leeds Rhinos winger.

Monday, 25th March 2019, 5:25 am

Handley ran in a hat-trick on Staurday night to become Betfred Super League’s leading try scorer, with eight, – but he still finished on the losing side as Catalans Dragons battled back to win 26-22 in Perpignan.

French winger Fouad Yaha, who had a brief spell in Leeds’ academy, scored four of their tries and a seventh defeat of the season left Rhinos bottom of the table. For Handley, that totally overshadowed his personal achievements and strong start to a first year as Rhinos’ number five.

“I am more bothered about the team, I would swap my tries for the two points,” insisted the 23-year-old who inherited the left-wing position from club legend Ryan Hall.

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BOUNCING BACK: Ash Handley is taken down by the Catalans defence. Picture: Pascal Rodriguez/

“We are all devastated.

“We could have won it, we know we could have won that game, but we just lost it at the end so we have to have a good mindset going into Castleford on Thursday.”

Rhinos have a short turnaround to this week’s derby against a team who have won all but one of the sides’ last 12 meetings.

“I think we would rather that and not dwell on this,” Handley said.

“Hopefully we can get a win against Cas and then kick on from there.”

Of what went wrong in the south of France, Handley reflected: “I thought we were in control for the majority of the game, but just a few errors and penalties let us down and they got over the line on the back of that.

“It is tough, we are working hard together as a team and hopefully we can put things right this week and get a big two points.

“We are still a new group, really and we are confident we can turn things around and once we do everyone will have their tails up and we’ll be flying with confidence.

“It’s just we need to get that first win and then we will be sweet.”

Catalans came through a similar crisis last year to go on and finish seventh in Super League and win the Challenge Cup.

Handley said that proved teams can recover from a tough start and he added: “You just need to get a roll on, get that monkey off your back and then kick on from there.”

Handley admitted Rhinos’ players are finding it tough to stay upbeat after a fourth successive loss.

“Everyone’s a bit down in the dumps,” he conceded.

“But we are a family here, we will stick together and hopefully we’ll get a good win on Thursday.

“We will take something out of [Saturday’s] game, we will review it and we will take it from there.”