THE NEXT game is the most important for Leeds Rhinos, according to Aussie prop Keith Galloway.
Rhinos play host to Featherstone Rovers tomorrow in a Ladbrokes Challenge Cup quarter-final and Galloway insisted the tie is as big as the Betfred Super League games coming up.
Rhinos are third in the table and Galloway insisted: “The aim is to win everything we can this year.”
He said: “We take each game as it comes, but obviously the Challenge Cup is upon us now. We have got Featherstone in front of us and we won’t be underestimating them. We played them last year in the middle-eights and even though we won by a bit it was a tough, physical game.
“If we get through this we are only two wins away from lifting the trophy. We are not looking too far ahead, but it would be massive to get to the final.
“I was lucky enough to play at Wembley for the Aussies in 2011, but to get there with this bunch of lads would be awesome.”
Tomorrow’s game is the second of three successive West Yorkshire derbies for Rhinos, who won at Wakefield Trinity last Saturday and play host to Super League leaders Castleford Tigers in eight days’ time.
Rhinos are six points adrift and a defeat next week would virtually end their hopes of winning the league leaders’ shield.
“Obviously Cas is big, but we’ve got to beat Featherstone first,” Galloway stressed. “We have to give them the respect they deserve. They are in the final eight, they’ve done well to get here and it will be a massive game for them to play against Leeds, especially here.”
Rhinos also faced the lowest-ranked team in the competition when they beat Barrow Raiders in round six – after seeing off third-tier Doncaster in their first tie.
“It’s just how the draw is,” Galloway said. “I have heard the boys say they’ve had a really tough draw in the past. It is what it is and you play who you are drawn against.”
Galloway is set for his ninth appearance of the season. He missed the opening nine matches as he recovered from a torn Achilles and then was sidelined for three more following minor knee surgery.
“I feel all right,” he said. “After being out for so long at the start of the year I was just starting to find my feet and some fitness and then I had to get a cleanout of my knee. The first game back I got a bit of an infection, but it’s not too bad. I haven’t done much running, but I played last weekend and I’ll be better for that, with some running in my legs.
“I’m available [for tonight] and looking forward to that. I missed so many games at the start of the year I am really enjoying my football at the moment and I want to play every game I can.”
Rhinos will be without suspended forward Jamie Jones-Buchanan tomorrow. Half-back/hooker Rob Burrow, who missed last week’s win due to a shoulder injury, is back in contention along with winger Ash Handley and prop Jordan Baldwinson.