TWO MORE points on the league table is Leeds Rhinos winger Ash Handley’s sole focus ahead of tonight’s trip to St Helens.
Handley grabbed home and away hat-tricks against Saints last year and was among the try scorers in Leeds’ 30-18 victory at Headingley a month ago.
But with Rhinos desperate to climb the First Utility Super League ladder, Handley admitted he is not concerned about continuing that run as long as Leeds get the win.
“I am looking forward to it, but I look forward to playing any team,” said Handley, who is set to make his 11th consecutive appearance tonight.
“I just hope we can get the win and if I can get over for a few tries I will be happy with that.
“I have only got two this year so I’d like a few more.”
With a host of key players on the casualty list, the experience being gained by youngsters including Handley, Ashton Golding and Jordan Lilley has been the major positive to come out of Rhinos’ season so far.
The 20-year-old former Oulton Raiders junior described his form as “all right”, but feels he is benefiting from every match.
“I thought the Hull game last week was one of my best games this year,” he said. “I just want to keep working and pushing on and hopefully playing at a consistent level.
“I will just see how it goes, but I am still learning every week. I want to work on the finer details of my game and hopefully everything will go well for me.”
With Ryan Hall and Tom Briscoe both on the casualty list, Handley is Rhinos’ only available specialist winger. He came into the side for February’s World Club Challenge, after Briscoe was injured in the previous week’s defeat at Widnes.
He has been on the field throughout his stint in the team, other than a spell when he was hurt in the win over Huddersfield last month.
After the pile-up of matches over Easter, he said: “My body is a bit sore and it’s obviously a bit worse when you are losing, but I was glad to get the win last week, even though it was a tight game.
“Now we just want to push on from there. It has been a tough time, my body is obviously feeling it a bit, but I am still young and I can take it.
“I am feeling all right, you obviously get a few niggles through the season, but I am enjoying being in the team It has been good for me, but I’d trade it for wins at the moment.”
He added: “It was good to get the win last week and hopefully we can keep pushing on and get another. We are confident – we haven’t been going into games, even when we’ve not been winning, thinking we aren’t confident.
“We just need to get a few things going for us. I think in a few games we’ve been quite unlucky, there’s only been a four-point gap in a few games, so it has been quite tight. I think we will be going into it the same as we have been most weeks.”
This weekend effectively marks the second half of the regular season, with all teams having played each other once.
Rhinos are four points outside the top-eight and Handley insisted they have to – and will – improve.
“It’s not early in the season any more,” he said. “We have played 11 games now and we need to get some wins and climb the ladder. We’re confident we’ll be able to get into the top-eight. Hopefully we can pick some form up from last week and keep winning now.”