ACTING-CAPTAIN CARL Ablett is confident the 30-6 Boxing Day loss to Wakefield Trinity will not set the tone for Leeds Rhinos’ season.
Rhinos were out-scored by six tries to one as Trinity retained the Wetherby Whaler Festive Challenge trophy.
With Danny McGuire and Rob Burrow not selected, Ablett captained the side for the first time.
He admitted he had expected Leeds to play better after some promising signs in pre-season training.
But he insisted he remains convinced they can fix things up before their Betfred Super League opener at St Helens on Thursday, February 9.
“Obviously we were a bit more optimistic towards the game, but I don’t think it is going to define our season,” Ablett said of the Boxing Day setback.
“I think we will be better. The new lads and the young lads in the team will be better for the experience of knowing what it is like to play against senior professionals who have been around the game.
“I think they had a good, strong team out and we had a few young lads in there who’ve got a taste of what Super League is all about.”
Rhinos’ next trial game is the Harry Jepson OBE Memorial Cup-tie at Hunslet on Sunday, January 15.
They face Hull KR at Headingley in Ryan Hall’s testimonial game the following Sunday and the entire squad will be in action over the final weekend of pre-season when Leeds visit Featherstone Rovers on Friday, January 27 and Doncaster two days later.
Ablett said there is time to put things right and the Boxing Day defeat highlighted what needs to be worked on.
“In the first half I think we had enough ball,” he said.
“The next four weeks is probably going to be spent fine-tuning that offensive stuff.
“The first part of pre-season has been about conditioning, hard work and putting some systems in place.
“We know we are going to get better and we have got players to come in.
“We’ve got a six, seven and nine [who didn’t play against Wakefield] and a few others who will make a massive difference.
“It was disappointing, but we will review it and learn from it what we can and I am sure it will have been a good exercise for the young lads who have seen what it’ll take to step up.”