LEEDS RHINOS are in “a good place” ahead of their most crucial three games of the season so far, according to chief executive Gary Hetherington.
Rhinos travel to Hull for a Ladbrokes Challenge Cup quarter-final tonight and the First Utility Super League leaders then face back-to-back games against second-placed St Helens and Wigan Warriors, who are third.
The timing is not ideal for the Challenge Cup holders, who have injury doubts over influential trio Danny McGuire, Liam Sutcliffe and Adam Cuthbertson and will definitely be without Jamie Jones-Buchanan, Mitch Achurch and Tom Briscoe for tonight’s do-or-die shoot-out.
But new Australian signing Mitch Garbutt – from Brisbane Broncos – is due to arrive in England tomorrow and could make his debut against Saints and Hetherington said: “We are in a good place.
“We are really excited about the Cup tie and going there as league leaders is a good situation to be in.”
The quarter-final will be televised live on Sky Sports, but Hetherington urged Leeds fans to make the trip to East Yorkshire.
“The Hull fans contributed greatly to the atmosphere at Headingley last Sunday,” Hetherington said of the league match which Rhinos won 32-20.
“They turned out in big numbers, they were vocal and they supported their team.
“They stayed at the end, even though they lost.
“They contributed to what was a tremendous atmosphere and I hope our fans do the same this week.
“It will be a hostile atmosphere, the Hull fans will make sure of that, so we need as many of our fans as possible to make the trip and give our players their vocal backing.”
Hetherington said the fact several Rhinos players are in their final season adds more spice to the tie.
He stated: “It is going to be a pressure game for all our players, particularly Jamie Peacock, Kevin Sinfield and Kylie Leuluai.
“Everybody knows the sudden-death nature of the Cup and if we were to lose, that would be their final chance gone. It is a hugely important game for both clubs and our fans have a big part to play.”