LEEDS RHINOS had an unscheduled weekend off when last Thursday’s visit of Catalans Dragons was postponed – here are five talking points from their campaign so far.
1: At this early stage Rhinos’ season could still go either way. After three matches played in Betfred Super League they are four points better off than in 2016 – when they finished ninth – and level with their tally from last season which ended with them in second place. Super League is so close a handful of successive losses or wins can make the difference between a top-four push and a relegation battle so the next few games will be crucial.
2: The defeat at Widnes Vikings was disappointing. Rhinos have not yet played a side from last year’s Super-8s – having also faced Warrington Wolves who were ninth in 2017 and promoted Hull KR – and should be on maximum points. The visit of Hull in three days’ time will be the champions’ first real test.
3: The decision to postpone the game was right, but having last weekend off wasn’t ideal as continuity is important at this stage of the year. It did allow Rhinos’ injured players extra time to recover, but Catalans will surely be in better form when the game is eventually played and if that happens during the international break in June Leeds are likely to be without some key players on England duty.
4: With so many forwards on the casualty list it was a gamble to allow Mikolaj Oledzki and Jack Ormondroyd to link up with Featherstone Rovers on dual-registration. But both have had limited game time – Ormondroyd getting short spells of the bench, though he started at Widnes and Oledzki having been injured - and the game time will be valuable for them.
5: Keith Galloway’s Rhinos career never really took off, due to two Achilles injuries, but he had an impossible task taking over from Jamie Peacock and did a solid job when fit. The search for a successor has begun, which could give Leeds a Mitch Garbutt-style mid-season boost.