Betfred Super League - Leeds Rhinos’ Cameron Smith up to speed and eager to face Salford Red Devils
RETURNING TO Betfred Super League action was a ‘shock to the system’, but Leeds Rhinos’ ball-handling forward Cameron Smith reckons he is getting back up to speed.
Smith is three games into his comeback following more than two months on the sidelines with a hamstring injury. The 22-year-old wasn’t happy with the way he performed at home against Catalans Dragons, but created two tries away to the same opponents the following week and made an impact off the bench in last Friday’s win over Salford Red Devils.
“It comes as a bit of a shock - the pace of the game and the contact side of things,” he admitted of returning to the team after so long on the casualty list.
“Especially in your rehab’, you can get as fit as you want and do as much running as you want and all the prep’ for the game but, as soon as that first game comes, it is a shock to the system. “It took me two or three games to get back and get a nice feel for it. I was really happy with how I went the other night and it’s a nice building block going into the business end of the season now.”
Smith has been a substitute twice and started once since his recovery and insisted he is happy with either role.
He said: “I don’t mind if Rich [Agar, Rhinos’ coach] wants to start me or put me on the bench, as long as I am in the 17.
“My role sort of changes; obviously if I am put on the bench my role is to come on and make an impact and if I am starting it is to make sure we start really well. It all depends on where I am playing and how I am playing.”
Tomorrow’s trip to Hull is the first of three games in nine days for Rhinos, who are at home to Warrington Wolves on Sunday and face Castleford Tigers at Emerald Headingley the following Friday.
It is going to be a challenging spell physically and they are all tough opponents, but Smith insisted: “I think the Salford game has put us in good stead.”
He said: “There’s a bit of a buzz. We were lacking a bit of confidence and a bit of buzz on the back of two Catalans defeats, especially as I thought we could have won both games.
“There were a couple of things we needed to tidy up, especially defensively, and I thought we did that really well against Salford.
“It has put us in good stead with regards to our confidence going into this tough block of games, especially against top opposition.”
Second-half performances have been an issue for Rhinos in recent games. Last week was the first time in four matches they outscored their opponents after the break, but that was by only two points after they had led 20-0 at half-time.
Smith noted: “I think that’s just a mentality thing which we are working on, knowing that if we come in ahead we have got to start putting teams to the sword and finishing the game strongly. That’s something we are definitely taking into account going into this tough period.”
Smith added: “We believe we can beat anyone and, on our day, I think we are an extremely good team.
“I think it’s important going into these games with the right mentality, we work hard for each other and, hopefully, we’ll come out with the right result.”