Leeds Rhinos: French trip is big test of character says Ward

Stevie Ward'.
Stevie Ward'.
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LEEDS RHINOS are facing a test of character this week, forward Stevie Ward says.

Rhinos will square up to Catalans Dragons in Perpignan on Saturday on the back of a shock 31-12 home loss to lowly Huddersfield Giants nine days earlier.

Kallum Watkins.

Kallum Watkins.

That performance was described by boss Brian McDermott as “poor” and Leeds will need a huge improvement to complete their first double of the Betfred Super League season.

Travel to France adds to the challenge and Ward said: “It’s going to be tough, but nobody ever said Super League was easy or being the best in Super League is easy.

“We will go there and have a positive attitude towards it.

“I am excited for it and excited for a tough week going into it.

Ryan Hall.

Ryan Hall.

“We are going to be doing some hard work and it will be an interesting game over there.

“It always is, but I enjoy the competition as well.”

Leeds will be without winger Ryan Hall and centre Kallum Watkins, who will play for England against Samoa in Sydney on Saturday.

Ward admitted that makes a difficult job even harder, but he insisted: “We have got some good youngsters.

“Jack Walker showed up last week and played really well.

“He was really solid and elusive. We’ve got some people coming back fit as well so we’d like to rate our chances and go over there and do a job – because it’s required of us.”

Rhinos’ players were back at work today after a four-day rest and Ward reckons the time off will give them a boost ahead of Saturday’s game.

“We have got a long turnaround and these are pretty scarce at the minute,” he said.

“We’ve had a pile-up of fixtures so we’ve enjoyed the break.

“You can’t think about rugby all the time, you’ve got to have a break every now and then and when you are in training you give it your all and give it the respect it deserves.

“But it has been good to chill out for a few days and now we go again.”

Rhinos would have gone top of the table with a win last week, but instead find themselves in fourth spot, two points behind leaders Castleford Tigers.

“We wanted to be up there,” Ward said.

“We wanted to be the best we could be last week and we just didn’t show up as well as we have been doing.

“You’d like to put it down to lack of focus, there was a kind of lack of focus in that game and not the same vibe we’ve had in the past.

“We have got to get that right this week and go there and do a job.

“We weren’t the same team we have been in the last few weeks, coming off the back of a few tough fixtures.

“It is an easy excuse to make. I don’t know if there were any tired bodies out there, but it’s the sort of game we should be winning. We want to be up there mixing it at the top, but we’re not there yet.”