THE NEXT two months will be all about coping with pressure, Leeds Rhinos winger Tom Briscoe predicts.
With six rounds of the Betfred Super League season remaining, every team from fourth-placed Wigan Warriors downwards is closer to the foot of the table than the top.
Rhinos are joint-bottom on points with London Broncos and Hull KR and the battle against relegation is set to go down to the wire.
Leeds finished in the bottom half of the table in two of the past three seasons, but the now-scrapped middle-eights provided a safety net.
This year the wooden spoonists will drop into the Championship and Briscoe said: “We have been in this position before, but it has not been as tight with all the teams over the last couple of years.”
He warned: “It makes it a bit more interesting and there’s more pressure with it being straight relegation.
“We know we need to get ourselves a couple of wins to get some breathing space and release some pressure.
“Over the last few weeks we have shown what we can do, especially in defence.
“It’s just a matter of doing that consistently now and dealing with that pressure and coming out the other end.”
Rhinos’ players had three days off following their 26-24 loss to Hull nine days ago, but have been back in training since last Thursday and, according to Briscoe, they are keen to get back on the field and right some wrongs.
“We have put the Hull game to bed,” he said. “We needed to do that and take some lessons from it into this week’s game.
“The big one is our respect for the ball.
“That is killing us at the minute and giving our defence too much to do.”
Rhinos’ defence has improved over the past two months, but errors in their own half mean they are having to do too much of it, Briscoe admitted.
He pointed out: “We are defending well, but once you do too much of it it starts to get hard, fatigue kicks in and that’s when teams score.
“We know if we get a fair share of possession and keep hold of the ball we will be in any game.”
Friday’s hosts, Huddersfield Giants, are eighth in the table, two points and two places ahead of Rhinos. A win at Hull KR last time out boosted their hopes of avoiding the drop and victory over Leeds would virtually make them safe.
“We’ve had some good games against them, some tough games and close games,” Briscoe recalled. “We are expecting nothing else this week. We know we need to be on our game this week and sort out our defence and our respect for the ball.”
Briscoe’s two tries against Hull took his tally for the season to 10. He said: “Personally, I think I am going all right. I’ve got some good involvements and I think as a back-five we have been going well, getting out of yardage.”
And Briscoe added: “I think my contribution to that is what I do best.”