Carl Ablett: ‘Headline grabbers’ will be key for us over course of season

Adam Cuthbertson
Adam Cuthbertson
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THIS WEEK I want to talk about three of our players who’ve been grabbing the headlines this season.

The first one is Adam Cuthbertson, who is having a fantastic year. He is someone I spent a bit of time with in pre-season; we did quite a lot of extras together and I think we’re seeing the benefits of all the work he has put in.

Stevie Ward

Stevie Ward

He has lost a few kilos and that’s made him a bit more durable. Cuthbo is all about his workrate and getting the ball in his hands as much as possible, because stuff can happen off him.

Cuthbo being good is integral to how we play. His unpredictability is one of his great strengths. Teams know he is going to off-load, but how or where he’s going to get the ball away is a mystery.

At times we don’t know what he’s going to do next, so I imagine he must be a nightmare to defend against.

He can be devastating when he off-loads, as he has shown in the last couple of matches.

Jimmy Keinhorst

Jimmy Keinhorst

The opposition know that and know they have to shut him down, but if they focus too much on Cuthbo it opens up opportunities for other people.

It’s great to see him getting back to his best and the way he played in 2015.

It was going to be tough for him last season after such a great first year.

He was unlucky not to get the Man of Steel award, but he has admitted he found it tough last year.

It gets to be a vicious cycle: the harder you try, the more mistakes you make. Some of the off-loads didn’t come off last year and when that happens your confidence can take quite a battering.

It was important he got away during the off-season and cleared his head and he has come back and started the year really well.

He’s got some combinations going again, especially with Matt Parcell and been a real threat for us. He’s also our top try scorer so far, but I don’t think that will last for long.

I also want to mention Stevie Ward. If it wasn’t for bad luck, he wouldn’t have had any luck at all over the last couple of seasons.

After his knee trouble I know he was gutted to tear a hamstring against Salford, but I think he is going to be a really key player for us this year, when he gets back to full fitness.

He has got loads of talent, he played in big finals as a young kid and he’s been mentioned as a future Leeds and England captain.

He’s had a rough time recently and he has spoken about how hard it has been coming back from his long-term injury, but Stevie’s a strong character.

He is still in his early 20s and he’s got another 10-15 years at the top level. All the tough experiences will make him stronger and better in the future.

He is getting more experienced about managing his body. It wasn’t until my late 20s that I realised what I could take and what I had to do to prepare for games and fully recover and he’s on the same learning curve. He is going to be a massive part of whatever success Leeds have over the coming years.

Jimmy Keinhorst must be the most under-rated player in Super League – at least outside our changing room.

Last year he was probably the stand-out in our team and the consistency in his game is amazing.

He is very solid, very strong and he does the little things – the stuff that doesn’t get noticed – really well.

He is scoring a lot more tries now, but he has built his game around being very solid defensively and he has got good skill.

Team-wise, we’ve got a big game at Huddersfield tonight. We talked a few weeks ago about not over-analysing and over-reacting to one bad defeat and it’s the same now after two good wins.

It’s too early to start looking at where we’re going to finish this year, as players we have just got to focus on each game.

I am just looking at my game and trying to improve and I think that’s the way to go. If we all do that we will do well as a team.

Leeds Rhinos' Ash Handley. Picture: Bruce Rollinson

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