LEEDS RHINOS are in a much better position now than seemed possible a month ago and forward Mitch Garbutt reckons the infamous defeat at Castleford Tigers played a big part in their upturn in form.
“Since that Cas game I think everyone’s kind of had a bit of a reality check,” Garbutt said of the record 66-10 loss a month ago today.
“We knew what we had to do, we had a tough night there and I think it has really helped us over the past few weeks.”
Rhinos have won four successive games, including a 26-18 victory over champions Wigan Warriors last Friday, since that embarrassing night at the Jungle
But the Aussie prop insisted Rhinos are not doing much – if anything – different now to a month ago.
“I said this all last year when I was being asked what was going on,” he said. “Rugby league’s a funny game – you can do the same amount of work and you can do all the same things and you get different results every week.
“At the moment we’ve been lucky and we’ve got some results going our way, but it’s not through doing anything easy – we’ve worked hard for everything we’ve got this year.”
The win over Wigan lifted Rhinos to second in the table, behind leaders Castleford on points difference. It took Rhinos until July 8, when they won at Hull, to reach 12 points last season and they went into April, 2016, with only two wins under their belt.
Rhinos already look well on course for securing a place in the top-eight and avoiding another battle against relegation in the Qualifiers, but Garbutt stressed: “We are under no illusions, we aren’t getting ahead of ourselves.
“We have worked really hard over the last few weeks and we’ve still got a few injuries and a few people to come back yet.
“I think a month down the line we will be a bit closer to where we want to be. We’ve performed well, but we haven’t set the world alight.
“We don’t think we’re world-beaters, but we are playing okay at the moment.”
Leeds visit Warrington Wolves on Friday and then face a busy Easter which sees them travel to Hull on Good Friday, play host to Widnes Vikings three days later and then take on Doncaster in the Challenge Cup four days after that.
“Hopefully we get some fresh bodies back for that,” Garbutt said.
“I know Singo [prop Brad Singleton] will be ready to go [after a six-game ban].
“He will be massive for us and big Keith [Galloway] will add a lot of experience and size when he’s back from injury.
“We’ve got Stevie Ward to come back as well and whenever he is in our side we are a better football team.
“We’re only going to be better when those people come back and we’ll have a lot of competition. We can definitely improve, but we have had a good month.”
Rhinos are without three first-choice forwards, but that has given Anthony Mullally an opportunity to establish himself in the 17.
“There’s never been any doubt that Mull can do something special when he’s on the field,” Garbutt said. “He is getting a bit more game time and he is hard to handle. He is big, he is fit and he’s strong. Whenever he’s out on the field he’s a danger.” Leeds will travel to HJ Stadium on Friday in confident mood, based on their own form and the hosts’ poor start to the season. But Rhinos have not won there in the regular season since 2010 and Garbutt warned: “Form means something on the table, but not coming into a game.
“They’ve had our marker the last few times we’ve played them and we are expecting a tough challenge.
“They will be desperate for a win and we’re desperate to continue the form we’re in at the moment so it should be a good game.”
Meanwhile, tries from Lewis Hosty, Kiedan Hartley, Dakota Whylie and Cameron Smith helped Leeds Rhinos Under-19s defeat City of Hull Academy 26-10.