LOSING AT Widnes Vikings on Sunday is “not an option” for Leeds Rhinos, big prop Anthony Mullally insists.
Rhinos’ Betfred Super League survival is on the line following last week’s 38-36 defeat by Hull KR.
The reigning champions are second in the Qualifiers table, but three other clubs are also on four points, two adrift of unbeaten leaders Salford Red Devils.
With only the top three being guaranteed a Super League place next year, Leeds know they will be in real danger of the drop if they slip up at Halton Stadium.
Mullally began his career with Widnes, making 10 substitute appearances in 2012 and said everyone in the squad is aware of what this weekend’s game means for Rhinos.
“They are going to be desperate, they need to win,” he said of his hometown club who are on a 16-game losing run.
“But so do we, it’s as simple as that.
“We lost last week and if we lose again we go into a worse situation than we are now – so it’s not really an option for us, losing.
“We were building prior to Hull KR and that was a massive setback, but we have been working really hard.
“We’ve been addressing a lot of things within ourselves as players. The things we need to fix we have been fixing up and I think that is going to start to show on the pitch soon, which it has to do.
“We are trying to get back to where we were and we need to do it sooner rather than later, so we will see what happens.”
Despite Widnes’ dire recent run, which includes a 34-0 Super League defeat at Leeds in May, Halton Stadium is not a ground Rhinos would choose to visit in a crucial game.
They won 23-20 in a Ladbrokes Challenge Cup tie there in May, but were beaten 23-6 on the same ground three months earlier in Super League.
That was their fourth successive loss on the Vikings’ artificial pitch and one of only three wins by Widnes in the regular season.
“For whatever reason, we’ve not done well there in the past,” Mullally admitted.
“I’m not sure whether it’s the pitch or what it is, but we need to get that out of our heads.
“We need to go there and win.
“There’s no excuses, nothing in the back of our minds – the only outcome’s a win, that’s what we need.”
Rhinos have been in prolific scoring form in the Qualifiers, rattling up 136 points in their three games so far, but they have conceded 92. Mullally accepts their defence needs a massive upgrade and they have to be more ruthless when they get in front.
“We’ve reviewed it [last week’s game] in depth,” he said.
“It was lapses in concentration.
“We’d be really good, but then we are letting teams off the hook in that moment where we’ve got them on the edge and they are about to go.
“Instead of piling points on we are letting them back into it and that has been the story of the last few weeks.”