CONSISTENCY is the key for Leeds Rhinos from now on, says back-rower Brett Delaney.
Rhinos began the season at a gallop, suffered a dip midway through and now seem to be regaining their form as the Super-8s approach.
Leeds will take a three-point lead at the top of First Utility Super League into tomorrow’s game at third-placed Wigan Warriors, but Delaney said it is vital they build on recent performances.
Leeds have won their past three games, including a 46-18 thrashing of defending champions St Helens last Friday and Delaney stressed: “Last week we built on the game the week before and we have got to keep that consistency going, because it is the back end of the season now.
“It was very pleasing, we’ll take some positives out of that game and move on.
“We have got another tough battle this week, against Wigan over there.
“That will be another tough one, so we’ll be looking to build on what we did on Friday and take it into [tomorrow’s] game.”
Leeds meet Saints again on July 31 in a Ladbrokes Challenge Cup semi-final, but Delaney insisted: “It is a bit far away.
“We will take Friday’s game and put it to bed and hopefully build on some positives going into Thursday.
“When the Cup comes up that’s another game and another chance to go on to Wembley.”
Rhinos will be without in-form second-rower Stevie Ward tomorrow after he suffered an ankle injury against Saints.
He will be out of action for up to six weeks, but Aussie forward Mitch Garbutt has had another week to settle in after making his debut and Delaney feels the ex-Melbourne Storm and Brisbane Broncos man will be an asset to the pack.
He said: “He’s a big boy, he is probably our biggest player.
“It was good to see him come in and fit in. He’s a nice fella and it’s always good to get some fresh legs in the team.
“I thought he did well in his first game and it looks like he will be a good player for us.”
Delaney was also pleased for winger Ash Handley, who scored a hat-trick of tries against Saints – repeating his feat from April’s away game.
“He is building,” Delaney said. “He is only a young bloke and it’s good to see. We’ve got a good crop of young kids.
“He has fitted in really well. He’s played a few games now and he’s finding his feet on that wing, which is pleasing to see.”
Delaney has come off the substitutes’ bench in the past two games after recovering from a hamstring problem aggravated in the Magic Weekend loss to Wigan in May.
He says he is happy with the way his comeback has gone so far and is looking to continue in similar style for the rest of the campaign.
“I have missed a fair bit of footy this year so it has been disappointing personally, but it is good to come back into a side that’s winning,” he said.
“I hope I can contribute for the rest of the year.”
Delaney’s fitness was tested against Saints when Rhinos were reduced to 12 players early in the second half, with Zak Hardaker in the sin-bin.
“I just played in the middle, plugging holes and working hard,” he said.
“That’s what my game is based around, hard work. I hope I can stay on that paddock and keep up that hard work.”