Leeds Rhinos v Hull FC: Star forward Zane Tetevano relieved to be back in action
IT HAS been a frustrating wait, but Leeds Rhinos’ star forward Zane Tetevano says he is “stoked” to be back in action.
Tomorrow’s visit of Hull will be only Tetevano’s fourth game for Rhinos since joining them from Penrith Panthers in pre-season.
The 30-year-old Cook Islands and New Zealand international was sent off early in the second half of Rhinos’ Betfred Challenge Cup defeat at St Helens on April 10.
The RFL’s match review panel charged him with grade D striking and he was banned for four games by a disciplinary panel.
Rhinos lost the first three games of his suspension, before getting back to winning ways against Wakefield Trinity eight days ago and Tetevano admitted: “It has been a long five weeks.”
He said: “Watching from the sidelines has been pretty stressful.
“Obviously we’ve had a few setbacks, but I’m just stoked to finally get back out there.
“It was out of my control, but the club and our performance group allowed me to continue full training and I’ve done a little bit of conditioning after every session, which has been great for me.
“It’s good I’ve finally got a purpose at the end of the week.
“We have been slowly building up for Sunday and I don’t want to be getting too excited.
“Really I am jumping out of my skin, but I think I have to pull it back a little bit and slowly build my foundations.”
Rhinos needed golden point extra-time to see off Wakefield after a scrappy performance, particularly on attack, but Tetevano reckons, in the circumstances, any victory is a good one.
“It allows Monday to be a bit better, you can come in with a bit more morale,” he added.
“There’s been a few games when we haven’t come away with the result, but I can see we are going to start improving.
“We played against Wakefield last week and it was definitely a nerve-wracking game, but I’m glad we got a win out of that and hopefully we can take some confidence from it and move on to this week, which is going to be a tough task.”
Hull are on the back of a 27-10 reverse by Catalans Dragons five days ago, which was only their second defeat of the season.
It came a week after they had knocked Wigan Warriors out of the Betfred Challenge Cup and Tetevano reckons they are “definitely one of the top teams this season”.
He said: “We have got to keep it pretty simple, play a bit of attack as well and obviously it’s going to come down to defence.
“They have got quality right across the park so we have to be on our best game, but I think that’s how it is every week.
“It’s an old cliche, but that’s how it’s going to be.”
Five weeks without playing – including one weekend when Leeds didn’t have a game – has been tough for Tetevano but Rhinos’ fans have waited much longer to see their side in live action.
Tomorrow will be Rhinos’ first fixture in front of spectators for 444 days, after 24 behind closed doors matches.
Capacity is limited to 4,000 Rhinos season ticket holders, but Tetevano is relishing his first experience of a Super League crowd.
“First and foremost, I think it’s exciting for the club and fans to finally reconnect again,” he said.
“It has been a long time coming, but I am super-excited for our sponsors, our fans and the club to finally reconnect with their love of the Rhinos.”
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