How do Leeds Rhinos back up against Wigan Warriors? Alex Mellor says 'mindset' is key

Having the right mindset is crucial for Leeds Rhinos as they prepare for Thursday's visit of Wigan Warriors, second-rower/centre Alex Mellor reckons.

Wednesday, 14th April 2021, 5:45 am

Rhinos have to back up against another of last year’s Betfred Super League Grand Finalists, just five days after their makeshift side - down to 12 men for 35 minutes - pushed St Helens all the way in the Challenge Cup.

Mellor said: “That’s one of the main things we’ve focused on, how do we back it up?”

The answer, Mellor reckons, is by sticking together and covering for your mates.

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Alex Mellor. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.

“You put so much energy and effort into that one performance, sometimes the next one is a drop off,” he admitted.

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“The main areas we scored highly on were our brotherhood, our togetherness - that really shone. When someone made an error we covered up and someone had their team-mate’s back. Those sort of areas aren’t too technical and can easily be replicated if we are all in the right mindset so, hopefully, we can do that.”

That all ties into the Spirit of the Rhinos theme which coach Richard Agar has put an emphasis on since the start of last season. Mellor added: “That sort of stuff is what carried us through.

Alex Mellor. Picture by Alex Whitehead/

“The togetherness really helped us compete.”

More - Leeds Rhinos v Wigan Warriors - Liam Sutcliffe, Bodene Thompson, Kyle Eastmond and Levi Edwards included as 21-man squads are namedMellor was one of three forwards who had to play in the backs last Saturday, because of Rhinos’ injury crisis.

He switched to centre - with Rhyse Martin and Cameron Smith playing in the halves - and insisted he won’t hesitate if asked to repeat that tomorrow or in any other game.

“It is team first, it is always team first,” he stressed.

“That is the culture we have got here.

“I am not sure where I will be playing, but I will put my hand up to play anywhere.”

Mellor wasn’t completely in untested territory last week.

He recalled: “I played centre in 2017 quite a bit, when I first went to Huddersfield. It is different - instead of having big blokes running at you, you’ve got quick blokes running at you, with 10 metres of space around you, so it is a little bit more [a case of] if I miss a tackle they are going to score. There’s a bit more pressure on your tackles; you don’t do as many so the workload is a bit easier, but the pressure is a bit higher.”

Asked if he enjoyed the role , he said: “Yes and no. I enjoyed certain bits, but I like to be a bit of a perfectionist and, when I am playing back-row, I can sort of judge and decide what I’ve done well and what I’ve done badly. From experience, I know what I should and shouldn’t be doing but, at centre, it is a bit of the unknown.

“I am not too sure on where I can improve, where I went wrong. It is a bit uncertain how I can review it and better myself.”

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