LEEDS RHINOS’ under-performing players have a collective responsibility to turn their season around, captain Kallum Watkins says.
Tonight’s visit of Castleford Tigers is Rhinos’ first chance to get last Saturday’s embarrassing 24-22 Coral Challenge Cup defeat at Bradford Bulls out of their system.
It is also a crucial game in its own right with Rhinos third from bottom in Betfred Super League, ahead of Hull KR on for and against and only two points clear of London Broncos who they meet at the Magic Weekend in 10 days’ time.
All season Leeds have had some individuals playing well, but they are not functioning as a unit.
That holds the key to them picking up vital points and climbing the league ladder, according to Watkins.
“Last week has happened, we are all disappointed and we are all responsible for that result,” he said.
It is about sacrificing a bit of your game for the team’s sake. Putting the team first is a massive thing we need to do.Kallum Watkins
“We have had to move on pretty quickly from that. It is a quick turnaround, but that helps us in the sense we can get straight back out there and put in a good performance against a good team in Cas.
“As players we have a duty to play well.”
Rhinos had their day off last Sunday cancelled and some home truths have been spoken in review sessions since the Odsal debacle.
Watkins said: “The performance wasn’t good enough.
“To be fair, you have to give credit to Bradford and how they took advantage of what we did wrong in terms of our discipline and our errors.
“We just got caught up in too much emotion and that cost us, really.
“That is from everybody on the field, but that’s done.
“We have looked at the video and got that over with.
“It obviously wasn’t the best video, but at the same time you want to improve and get better as a player – and collectively as a team we need to be better.
“We have got an opportunity to respond against Cas.”
Watkins added: “I know we are better than that and I know the team’s better than that.
“It is about collectively getting together and performing.
“It is as simple as that, it’s not [down to] anyone outside the team, it’s the players – they know they need to be performing better, collectively.
“It is as simple as certain little effort areas we need to get on top of.
“If we do that and prepare ourselves as best as we can it gives us the best opportunity because we have got the players here.
“We’ve got the players here to beat anyone, that’s what I believe. I know that because these guys do work hard, but it is not just about effort.
“It is about being smart, it’s about game-management, it is about sacrificing a bit of your game for the team’s sake.
“Putting the team first is a massive thing we need to do.
“What’s happened has happened – last week was disappointing, it was embarrassing, but we have to move on quickly.
“I think we have done and we are focusing on Thursday and getting the performance right.”
Previous coach Dave Furner, who was sacked last week, felt individuals were trying to solve the team’s problems on their own.
Watkins noted: “It’s all about the team. Individuals can play well, but ultimately if everyone’s not on the same page you’re not going to win.
“We did everything we could not to win last week. It was our own doing and we have to accept responsibility for that, but also we have to push it aside and focus on what’s next.
“We move on to Cas and hopefully we can start to build a bit more confidence. We have won games, but not backed it up. We need to come up with a good performance and build on that.”
Interim-coach Richard Agar will take charge of the team for the second time tonight and Watkins insisted he has the players’ full support.
“He is a great fella and I’m excited to work with him,” Watkins said.
“He has got some great ideas and he has got the experience as well.
“He has got the players’ respect.
“I know he works hard and what he brings in terms of his style of coaching and how he wants to improve players.
“That’s what he wants to do, improve players and collectively he knows what the standard here is.
“Hopefully he can do a good job and we will back him all the way.”