Leeds Rhinos: Singleton focused on group gains

RISING STAR Brad Singleton insists team success is more important than personal accolades.

Monday, 7th March 2016, 5:28 am
Brad Singleton

Singleton was Leeds Rhinos’ man of the match in their 20-16 victory over Huddersfield Giants three days ago.

That broke the champions’ duck for the year and the 23-year-old front-rower insisted: “I was pleased to get man of the match, but the main thing was getting the win. It has been a long time coming.”

Rhinos went into the game bottom of First Utility Super League, with Giants one place better off on points difference. The West Yorkshire rivals – who finished first and third in 2015 – had both lost their opening three league games and the tension was obvious in an error-strewn encounter.

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Driving rain and a heavy pitch made open rugby difficult, but Singleton admitted the pressure had been on the defending champions after three straight league defeats.

“I think there is always going to be pressure,” said the Barrow-born forward. “We are at a club where wins are expected.

“After what happened last year there is pressure every time we go out there, but we shouldn’t be nervous because there is confidence within this group of lads that we can get the win.”

The meeting with Huddersfield began a run of matches against the teams who finished below Leeds in last year’s top five.

They travel to Wigan Warriors – who have a 100 per cent winning record in 2016 – on Friday, play host to St Helens a week later and then visit Castleford Tigers for an Easter derby. It is a tough sequence, but Singleton said the outlook is brighter with Leeds now off the mark.

He said: “Hopefully that win is the start of something good and we can build some momentum now. We are just looking at each game. It is Wigan next, which is always a good game and we will be looking forward to it.”

Singleton has played in all Rhinos’ five competitive fixtures this year, starting in the last three. He is now an established member of Rhinos’ first-choice 17 after missing only two of their 36 matches during last year’s treble-winning campaign.

He feels starting and playing for longer suits his natural style and said: “Right through the ranks, from under-8s, I have loved playing big minutes. I just love playing rugby, so for me it is good.”

Rhinos’ overdue victory came at a price, with two players joining their already lengthy casualty list. Centre Joel Moon, who scored Leeds’ opening try, did not come out for the second half after suffering a hamstring problem, and winger Ash Handley left the ground on crutches, due to a damaged kneecap.

Both are in doubt for Friday’s game at DW Stadium, though Mitch Garbutt will be available after completing a two-game ban and long-term casualties Jamie Jones-Buchanan and Beau Falloon could come into the reckoning.

Injuries have played a part in Rhinos’ disappointing start, but Singleton refused to use them as an excuse.

“It’s just rugby league, it is a tough sport,” he said. “People get injured, so we just have to crack on.

“One door closes if there’s a bit of an injury, but the door opens for someone else. It is an opportunity for someone to take with both hands and hopefully crack on.

“Recruitment has been great, so I think the standard will stay the same on the field. It is all hands on deck, but we’ve got one win now and we’ll be going all out for the next one. Wigan is a big game and we need a win there. We will have to tick every box we can this week.”