Catalans v Leeds: Lure of treble is driving on Rhinos’ hungry Cuthbertson

Leeds Rhinos' Adam Cuthbertson.
Leeds Rhinos' Adam Cuthbertson.
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AUSSIE OFF-LOADER Adam Cuthbertson is hungry for more success after pocketing his first medal in the English game.

Cuthbertson has set his sights on helping Leeds Rhinos make history, having been a member of the team which won the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup at Wembley two weeks ago.

The Cup final win came in only his 28th game for the club and Rhinos are on course to complete the treble by adding the league leaders’ shield and Super League trophy, if they can regain their pre-Wembley form.

“You don’t ever want to stop at one (trophy),” Cuthbertson stressed.

“There’s a lot to play for this season and we are really, really hungry to lift another one.”

But there is a danger Rhinos could become victims of their own success.

Last week they lost at home to St Helens - a team they had out-played three times previously this year - in their first game after Wembley.

And while Wigan Warriors, who are second in the First Utility Super-8s table, have had a couple of recent weeks off, Rhinos have played right through since February.

But Cuthbertson insisted Rhinos can handle the workload and pressure that comes with being on the brink of the club’s best-ever season.

“If we were getting injuries or there were dramas going on, maybe it would be tough,” he said.

“But they [the players, club and coaching staff] learned a lot off the back of last year and we have been managed really well, especially in and around training.

“We are just getting in and doing short, sharp sessions. They are putting a lot of control into what we do and we can only be better for it.

“It is obviously a long season and some clubs have had weeks off, but I would rather be involved in the Challenge Cup final weekend than having a week off.

“It is just the way we go about managing ourselves and how we go about the five weeks to come.

“I think we have learned a lot from last year and we are doing really well now.”

Rhinos - who face Catalans Dragons in Perpignan today - can’t afford any more slip-ups after last week’s defeat, which was their first loss in eight matches.

The 32-18 setback brought Leeds back into the sights of second-placed Wigan Warriors and Cuthbertson insisted: “We always thought we’d come out and win that game.

“We did our best to do so, but it was tough circumstances with the short turnaround and our energy being drained from the week before.

“But I think we have learned a lot from it and we will be better for it this weekend.

“We didn’t win last week, but we played a great team, St Helens – the defending champions – the week after playing in the Cup final.

“It was never going to be easy, but I still think we went out there and competed really well and gave them a tough competition.

“We had a few players out, but hopefully we’ll be back to full strength this week and have a healthy squad again, which is great.”

Cuthbertson admitted today’s match will be a major test of Rhinos’ treble credentials.

“It’s never easy,” he said of the trip to the south of France.

“I’ve only done it once, but it’s not easy travelling, especially over to France to go up against them.

“They’ve been in mixed form, but they’ve got a great team and they are fully healthy. It is going to be a big job for us.”

Cuthbertson regards Aussie stand-off Todd Carney as Catalans’ main threat. He said: “He is always dangerous.

“I have played against him for years and he’s one of those types of guy who, if you haven’t done your homework on him, he can pull your team apart.

“He’s not only got a really good attacking game with the ball, but he has a great kicking game as well, so he is definitely one to watch.”

Rhinos’ forwards will be charged with shutting down Catalans’ pack, so they can’t create space for Carney and fellow half-back Scott Dureau.

“They have got a really big pack,” Cuthbertson said.

“It is definitely a big job for us this weekend.”

Catalans have not lived up to pre-season expectations this year, mainly due to poor away form.

But they have lost only twice at Stade Gilbert Brutus in 2015, to Leeds in March and Huddersfield Giants at the end of the regular season.

“They are a lot stronger at home, everyone knows they play at home really well,” Cuthbertson added.

“We are quite aware of that and we’ve talked about it, but I think we’ve just got to worry about ourselves first and foremost.”

Catalans Dragons (from): Escare, Bosc, Inu, Gigot, Sigismeau, Carney, Dureau, Lima, Pelissier, Elima, Taia, Whitehead, Baitieri, Bousquet, Robin, Henderson, Mounis, Garcia, Maria.

Leeds Rhinos (from): Hardaker, Briscoe, Keinhorst, Moon, Hall, Sinfield, McGuire, Garbutt, Cuthbertson, Peacock, S Ward, Ablett, Delaney, Singleton, Achurch, Leuluai, Lilley, Walters, Handley.

Referee: Robert Hicks (Oldham).

Kick-off: Today 5pm BST, 6pm local.