Leeds Rhinos' Derrell Olpherts makes 'crack on' pledge ahead of Magic Weekend deby v Castleford Tigers
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Rhinos will go into Saturday’s Magic Weekend derby against Castleford Tigers, at Newcastle’s St James’s Park, having won only one of their last five games in Betfred Super League and the Challenge Cup.
They also have a lengthy casualty list, but Olpherts insists last week’s performance in the 13-12 golden-point defeat by St Helens was a step in the right direction.
Leeds lost three players to injury and had James McDonnell sent-off, but held Saints to 12-12 after 80 minutes and were beaten by a drop goal in the final minute of extra-time.
That was a tough one to take, but Olpherts stressed: “We can’t be too down on ourselves. We only had 14 players for quite a long time, we had one sub and people playing out of position everywhere.
“The effort from the boys was outstanding and we were just unlucky. It could have gone either way, unfortunately it didn’t go our way, but we can be proud of our effort.
“We had three players injured in the first 30 minutes, the spine got changed, but we took them down to the wire and lost by a point.
“We had a couple of chances to nail it and unfortunately we didn’t, but we can take positives from our effort areas and digging deep for one another.”
Both Rhinos’ meetings with Saints this year have been decided by a single point, with Blake Austin’s drop goal snatching the spoils for Leeds in March.
That and performances in wins over Wigan Warriors and Catalans Dragons have shown what Rhinos are capable of when they get their game right, Olpherts believes.
He said: “We are definitely capable of doing something this year and I’ve no doubt we will. We will just crack on and go again into battle on Saturday. Hopefully some of the [injured] boys pull through and we get some boys back.”
Saturday’s game is a big one for Olpherts who played for Tigers in their Magic Weekend loss to Leeds last year.
He said. “I played at Newcastle for a couple of years and used to go watch Magic Weekend when I was playing up there. I’ve played there a couple of times as well and I love it. It is a good spectacle for the game.”
Olpherts joined Rhinos from Tigers in the off-season on a two-year contract. He has scored two tries in nine appearances and is two matches into his comeback following more than a month on the casualty list.
“I tore my soleus,” he recalled. “I had about five weeks out, played one week in the reserves then came back in [against Wigan in the Challenge Cup].
“It is good to get some games under my belt. I just want to keep performing for the boys, keep digging deep and doing my graft and hopefully we can get some wins. That’s the aim, get some wins, get into the top-six and anything can happen then.”