Leeds Rhinos: League finish does not matter - Kirke

Ian Kirke.
Ian Kirke.
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Leeds Rhinos forward Ian Kirke insists it is now irrelevant where they finish the regular Super League season.

The defending champions return to action against Catalan Dragons at Headingley next Friday knowing hopes of finishing as high as second in the table have now gone.

A surprise home defeat against Hull KR last time out put paid to that and also reduced their hopes of catching Wigan Warriors in third.

But five-times Grand Final winner Kirke is ambivalent about the scenario.

“We’ll look to get straight back in against Catalan, of course,” he said.

“Obviously beating Rovers would have massively benefited in terms of getting third but there’s not too much difference between that position and fourth.

“Hopefully if results go our way we can still get to third but if we don’t we’ll just go do what we can from fourth.”

Considering Leeds have successfully navigated their way to the Super League title from fifth position in the Super League table in each of the last two seasons you can understand Kirke’s attitude.

By finishing in the top four, they will gain an extra life in the play-offs, at least.

Equally so, the 32-year-old feels a first loss in five games could actually work in their favour.

“We had enough ball against Rovers but we didn’t do what we wanted to do with it,” he added.

“So, there’s been some things to look at.

“We’ve been in this week without a game or a decent win under our belt but sometimes in defeat it means you know where you need to work on more than if things are covered over with a win.

“It’s not necessarily the worst thing.

“We were a little bit flat and we’ll find the reasons for that and look to respond against Catalan,” he said.

On the back of wins over Bradford Bulls and Tetley’s Challnege Cup finalists Wigan Warriors, their French visitors will arrive in confident mood and still harbouring hopes of usurping St Helens from fifth spot.

But Leeds hope to complete a league double having defeated them 27-12 in Perpignan on Easter Monday despite being reduced to 12-men following Ryan Bailey’s dismissal.

Matt Parcell.

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