Leeds Rhinos: It’s no time to panic, we must keep the faith – McGuire

Jamie Peacock in action against Widnes.
Jamie Peacock in action against Widnes.
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HOW DO you get out of it when you find yourselves in a run of bad results?

That’s the question we’re facing at the moment after three games without a win and there is no easy answer.

From our point of view, the key thing is there’s no panic. The worst thing you can do is start questioning your approach and what you’re doing and the style of rugby you’re playing.

You have to keep the faith. We have had a good year so far and we know, when we get it right, what we do works.

It’s just the last few games that have been a bit scratchy. We have been making a few too many mistakes in both offence and defence and as players we all have to look at our own games.

We have to fix our own games up and make sure the next time we go on the pitch we improve from the last few weeks. If we do that, we won’t be far away, whoever we play.

That’s the approach we have been taking this week, as we prepare for Huddersfield tomorrow in the Challenge Cup.

We are disappointed with what we’ve turned out over the last three weeks, but there is only one solution and that is hard work.

We got in on Monday, reviewed last weekend’s game and identified the areas that let us down and since then all we have been doing is looking forward.

One thing we need to be better at is the way we start the game. On Sunday, Widnes made a break in the first set and scored from it and it was similar at Huddersfield.

In both games we hit back and got in front, but we weren’t able to get on with the job. I know some people will suggest complacency set in after we went six points clear at the top of the table, but it has never felt like that.

Certainly last week, we were just poor defensively; there were some poor reads and bad misses.

We got behind and then it all became a bit frantic. It was a combination of things and Widnes were a bit more clinical than us. I don’t think they were brilliant, but they did enough to get the points.

It is frustrating, but we are still two points clear after 14 rounds and if we had been offered that at the start of the year, we’d definitely have taken it.

We have worked hard over the first half of the season and we don’t want to let that hard work go to waste by having a dip now, so it’s important we find some better form.

There are too many good players in the team to not come through this. We are together and working hard as a unit and we will get back on track.

It is a different challenge this week, because there are no second chances in the Cup. We are the Cup holders and everybody will talk about whether we can defend it, but our aim is to attack the competition this season.

The pressure is off us a little bit, because we got the monkey off our backs last year. We are used to going into Challenge Cup games and being asked the same questions about our past record in the competition, but that’s all been put to bed now.

The big thing is, we want to win the Cup as much now as we did a year ago. Last year was a fantastic experience, we had a good run and put in some great performances and the final is a day we’ll all remember for the rest of our lives. It’s a feeling we want again.

In the past we’ve been able to defend Super League titles and there’s no reason why we can’t do the same in the Challenge Cup.

We know if we get our game right we are capable of going all the way to Wembley and lifting the trophy again, but there’s a few other teams around us who will be feeling exactly the same.

Huddersfield are a good team and to get past them we will have to play a lot better than we have done for the last few weeks.

They are playing really well, they are in better form and they’ll probably go into tomorrow’s game as favourites.

That is a challenge in itself, but it is also an opportunity. We haven’t come up with the goods in recent weeks, but we’ve got chance to put that right tomorrow and get our season back on track.

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I’M NOT sure yet what to think about the new format for the Challenge Cup.

We are entering a round later this year, along with the other teams from last season’s Super League top-eight.

That means there’s less chance of playing a lower division team, not that we’ve done that very often anyway, but the sixth round draw has definitely produced some intriguing ties and it’s hard to pick a winner in five of the eight.

I can’t see Dewsbury Rams (home to Warrington), York (at St Helens), Batley (away to Widnes) or Featherstone (at Catalans) getting into the next round, but a tie against Super League opposition should be good for their players and fans.

I don’t want to sound patronising, but hopefully the lower division teams will get a decent payday out of it and they enjoy the experience.

More players are beginning to come through from the Championship into Super League so it’s a chance for their ambitious players to put themselves in the shop window.

Wigan have had to give up home advantage against Hull KR, but after their 60-0 win a couple of weeks ago, I think they will be too strong tonight.

Hull KR are a good attacking team, but Wigan are hitting a bit of form and they will probably win that one.

I’m not sure who’ll come out on top between Hull and Castleford tomorrow. Cas have got a few injuries and their away form isn’t the best, but they can beat anybody on their day and they’ll have a taste for the Challenge Cup after last year.

But I always thought Hull would come good once they got their best players back. They had a great result last week and, with home advantage, I’d probably just about tip them.

Wakefield against Leigh is another tricky one. A win could turn Wakefield’s season around. They are starting to get a few players back and I have a sneaky feeling they will come out on top.

Disgraced England star Zak Hardaker in action for Castleford Tigers. (Picture: Bruce Rollinson)

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