Leeds Rhinos coach Brian McDermott has appealed for 20-year-old stand-off Liam Sutcliffe to be “cut some slack”.
Sutcliffe kicked four goals in Rhinos’ 24-24 draw at Huddersfield Giants, but was off-target with a late drop goal attempt which could have won the game.
Asked by the media if Sutcliffe was “kicking himself” for that miss, McDermott said: “He will do.
“But then Danny Brough, who is an outstanding kicker of the ball - probably one of the best out-of-hand kickers in the game - missed two drop goals as well.
“I understand why it will be highlighted that Liam Sutcliffe missed that goal, but I am not as concerned.
“It will hurt him and give him desire to practice, but we didn’t [draw] that game because of the drop goal.
“We did because Huddersfield were very good in the second half.”
The trip to John Smith’s Stadium was Sutcliffe’s 70th senior appearance for Leeds.
McDermott said: “Since we started playing him in 2013, due to injury, he has always been good.
“He has some ropy games and some games where you think he didn’t really do much, but bear in mind this is unique.
“He is a young half-back taking over from the most successful half-back trio/partnership Super League has ever seen.
“When you are all making judgements about Liam Sutcliffe missing a goal, I’m thinking cut the kid some slack.
“The task in front of him, if you put it in that context I think he is doing a fantastic job.
“He is eager to learn, he’s very respectful and to give him more game time is the key - but to do it at the right time, in the right manner. That’s the balance we need to strike.”
Second-row Brett Delaney suffered a head injury in the second half at Huddersfield, but is likely to be available for Rhinos’ next match, at Widnes Vikings on Suday, May 10, due to the long turnaround.
“He got concussion and didn’t come back, but hopefully he’ll be all right,” McDermott said.
“It’s similar to Kallum Watkins [who suffered concussion in the defeat to Warrington Wolves, but played against Huddersfield six days later].
“His head banged on the ground, so usual routine - we will check on him over the next couple of days.”
McDermott admitted the loss of Delaney was a blow to Rhinos at a time when Giants were putting them under heavy pressure.
“He was good,” said the coach. “Not only do you miss a good player, but it knocks about your subs. We didn’t have many options towards the back end.”
McDermott added: “I thought the pack were good.
“I thought Paulie Aiton did a good job working with the pack, offensively especially, but Brett Delaney was out there making a lot of metres.
“Stevie Ward didn’t play and some of that strike he gives us, we missed a bit.”
Rhinos skipper Kevin Sinfield was left out of the team after two appearances on the bench. McDermott said he still has a role to play before his end of season move to Yorkshire Carnegbie Rugby Union Club, but hinted his brief stint as a substitute is over.
“You either start with Kev or you don’t,” he said.