LEEDS RHINOS are adopting a “siege mentality” for the final, decisive two months of the season, forward Brett Ferres says.
Rhinos visit Huddersfield Giants tomorrow at the start of the most crucial period in the club’s history.
Leeds are 10th in the 12-team Betfred Super League, above Hull KR and bottom club London Broncos on for and against, and two points behind Huddersfield and Wakefield Trinity.
If they win by eight points or more tomorrow evening and Wakefield lose at leaders St Helens, Rhinos will climb to eighth. However, should they slip up and Hull KR and London both win on Sunday, Leeds would find themselves in the relegation zone with only five games remaining.
“It is a bit of a cup final, siege mentality for us,” Ferres said of Rhinos’ mindset.
“We need to win every game now and knock them off. We are treating every game as a final, then we’ll move on to the next one.”
Rhinos seemed to have turned the corner when they won back to back against Catalans Dragons and Castleford Tigers, but successive defeats by Hull KR and Hull dragged them back into danger.
Ferres added: “It is a big game, but it has been for the last three weeks.
“We have missed a couple of opportunities to get some points on the table. We had last weekend off, we are refreshed and we’ve had some good training days in there so we’re looking forward to the challenge ahead.”
Though Leeds won 38-18 when the sides met at Emerald Headingley in April, Giants have been their bogey team over recent seasons. Leeds have a history of tough nights at John Smith’s Stadium and Ferres – who signed from Huddersfield ahead of the 2016 season – noted: “I think that rivalry has been going back for a fair few years.
“There’s been some good games within it. Huddersfield were on top of that for quite a few years and Leeds have turned the tide a little bit now.”
Both teams have had two weeks to prepare for this evening’s four-pointer, but Ferres admitted: “I like playing, I would play the day after if I got chance.
“When you get beat it is awful and it was a really tough one to take against Hull. We clawed it back, but then gifted them the game in the end.
“It was really disappointing, but we have rested up and hopefully fixed a few little areas up. I just think we all need to turn up with the right attitude and do the job.”
The positive for Rhinos is their form has improved over the past two months, even if their situation in the table hasn’t.
Ferres insisted: “We have still had some defeats, but I think we look a better side.
“We are playing better, we have scored more points and not let as many in but, most importantly, we need to get some two points. You can play great and not get the two, but it is getting to a stage now where we just need the wins.”
One result can move a team a couple of places up or down the ladder, but consistency is the key.
“We’ve done that a few times, won a couple and gone up the table and then the week after we’ve got beat again and we’re back in the same spot,” Ferres observed.
“It is tough to look forward when you are in a fight.
“We will try to knock Huddersfield off, they are in a similar position so it is going to be hard, but we will go out there and do our best.”
Though Leeds’ battle against the drop has hit the headlines all year, Ferres stressed: “We aren’t really talking about relegation.
“If you concentrate too much on that you get tied up in it a bit.
“There’s plenty of opportunities to get out of it, with six games left.
“There’s plenty there to go at, so week-in, week-out we just need to keep knocking them off.
“On paper, we have got a great side and a great squad; we just aren’t getting results.”
Ferres is out of contract at the end of the season and has been linked with a return to one of his previous clubs, Wakefield Trinity.
He said he doesn’t know where his future lies but, of his current form, he reckons: “I am all right. Rich [Agar, Rhinos’ interim-coach] has asked me to play a bit of a different role, I am getting to play a bit more in the middle and it has been all right.
“I am getting a bit more ball, a bit less game time, but whatever’s best for the team I am happy to do.”