NUMBERS MAY be down, but confidence is up following Leeds Rhinos’ progression into the semi-finals of the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup.
Prop Adam Cuthbertson described being in the last-four – where they will face Warrington Wolves – as “outstanding, especially after the last two weeks we’ve had”.
Rhinos meet Huddersfield Giants at Emerald Headingley on Friday, seven days after their 52-22 Cup demolition of Leigh Centurions and Cuthbertson reckons they will have a spring in their step.
“We’ve done it quite tough, but we played a good, solid brand of Leeds Rhinos rugby on Friday and that made the win a little bit easier for us,” he reflected. “It has given us a bit more confidence that, hopefully, we can take into this week.”
Rhinos face eight Betfred Super League games before the semi-final clash on August 5 and Cuthbertson said it is “really important now” to gain some league form and push up towards the top-four.
“If we can use Friday night as a good platform it will help us over the next few weeks,” he predicted. “We’ve just got to continue to work on our defence and everything unfolds from there.”
Leeds ran in nine tries against Leigh, all of them after the opposition had a player sent-off, but Cuthbertson stressed: “Don’t take anything away from them. They are a good team with a lot of experience.
“We just seemed to do everything right. It’s something we will continue to work on in training. You don’t just get those things right, no matter who you play.
“Sometimes we play the under-19s at training and we don’t get things right, so to go out and execute the way we did in a quarter-final is good.”
The negative from last week’s win was three more injuries – to Matt Parcell (head), Carl Ablett (calf) and Jimmy Keinhorst (knee).
If we can use Friday night as a good platform it will help us over the next few weeks. We’ve just got to continue to work on our defence and everything unfolds from there.Adam Cuthbertson
Rhinos were already without nine senior players and Ablett and Keinhorst are also facing a lengthy lay-off.
“It hasn’t helped,” Cuthbertson admitted. “But the way we managed the game [against Leigh] on the back of injuries is great for us going forward.
“We only had one reserve and me and Mik [Oledzki] were doing a lot of swaps with Mulls [Anthony Mullally] and you don’t get that experience all the time. It can help in the back end of the season when you start getting into the thick of things with the Super-8s.
“A lot of teams will go through injuries and to come away from it in good fashion with a win like we did is great.”
Prop Mitch Garbutt, who has played twice this season, is close to returning from a knee injury and Cuthbertson reckons he will be a “massive” addition to the side.
“You don’t realise how good a player he is until he’s not there,” he said of his fellow front-rower. “You need that big, solid forward who’s just going to run over people.
“The likes of me and Matty Parcell have missed him and it’s good to have people like him and Mulls in the team.
“We’re also getting a good combination with Mikolaj and starting to learn how each other play.
“Hopefully we’ll continue that going forward.”