Leeds Rhinos: Singleton confident of a bright opening

EIGHT DAYS out from their opening Betfred Championship fixture, front-rower Brad Singleton reckons champions Leeds Rhinos are on track for a positive start.

Wednesday, 24th January 2018, 4:45 am
Brad Singleton. PIC: Steve Riding

Rhinos – who have lost successive round one games – kick-off the new season away to Warrington Wolves a week tomorrow and Singleton is confident preparations are going according to plan.

“I think we’ve laid some great foundations with how we left off last year,” said the 25-year-old Ireland international, who collected his second Grand Final winner’s ring last October.

“The boys who’ve come in have added some quality to the group and I think we will be there or thereabouts come the Warrington game.”

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Richie Myler. PIC: Steve Riding

Singleton has played in twice in pre-season so far, captaining the side on Boxing Day when they won at Wakefield Trinity and starting at prop for the 16-4 defeat at Castleford Tigers three days ago.

That was Rhinos’ full-scale trial game and coach Brian McDermott fielded his strongest-available squad.

Leeds managed just one try, but the game was played in appalling conditions and Singleton insisted it was the sort of tough encounter they needed less than two weeks before their opening match.

“I imagine for the fans it wasn’t too appealing,” Singleton said.

Anthony Mullally. PIC: Steve Riding

“But for us, we needed a hit-out and obviously we live in England so that is the weather we have to deal with.

“It was a hit-out against a very strong Castleford side.

“We fell short of a victory, but I am sure we will have got a lot out of it.

“All the forwards got decent minutes.

Richie Myler. PIC: Steve Riding

“There is only so much you can do in training and you need to be hitting people that want to run through you.

“That’s what happened so I think it was great to get that sort of challenge at this point in the year.”

Tigers went 12-0 ahead in as many minutes, but Rhinos dug in after that and there was only one try each in the remaining 68 minutes.

Improvement on attack is needed, but the strong defensive effort, for most of the game, was the main positive, in Singleton’s view.

Anthony Mullally. PIC: Steve Riding

“I feel we did defend well,” he added.

“What they did with the ball early doors was very good, so just to have that sort of competition in pre-season is good for us, to see where we are at.

“I don’t think either team performed badly, it was just two Super League teams seeing where they are at in pre-season.

“It was difficult playing-wise because of the weather, but I think especially the middle boys got a lot out of it, though it might not be those sorts of conditions when we go and play in Melbourne!”

Rhinos complete their pre-season campaign away to partner club Featherstone Rovers on Friday.

They also have two in-season trial games, at Keighley Cougars on Sunday, February 4 and away to another League One club, Hunslet, five days later.