LIAM SUTCLIFFE says Leeds Rhinos’ decision to go for tries rather than kick penalty goals reflects their attacking spirit.
Twice in last week’s 6-4 Betfred Super League defeat at St Helens Leeds opted not to take a possible two points – once just before half-time when they led 4-0 and then in the second half, at 6-4 down.
Sutcliffe was on goal kicking duties and he said: “There was a lot of conversation about whether to go for two or to play on.
“We decided to try and get a try. That’s the good thing about this team.
“Obviously it didn’t come off, but we are willing to try different stuff and try and go for the try, which I think is testament to our attitude and what we want to go for this year.”
Despite the result, Sutcliffe reckons Rhinos came away from St Helens in positive mood.
“Obviously it’s very disappointing to lose the first game of the year, but I thought performance-wise – especially compared to where we were last year – it was a massive improvement,” he said.
“We’ve got a lot to build on and we can take a lot out of that game – there’s a lot of positives.”
Sutcliffe has said he wants to play at stand-off this year, after spending the second half of the 2016 campaign at full-back.
With captain Danny McGuire ruled out, due to a quad injury, the 22-year-old started in the halves alongside veteran Rob Burrow.
“Mac told me it was an opportunity to stake my claim,” he said of coach Brian McDermott’s selection.
“I was really looking forward to it. When it’s the first game everybody wants to play and to get a start so I feel really fortunate.
“I thought our control of the game was really good, but there were moments of the game when we could have gone to the line more or put away a try or something like that, but we will work on that this week.
“We will come in on Monday and review it and look forward to next week.”
Sutcliffe’s return to the halves has allowed Ashton Golding, who wears the No 1 jersey, to take over at full-back. He made three try-saving tackles in an eye-catching performance and Sutcliffe reckons the 20-year-old has a bright future.
“He is a freak,” Sutcliffe said. “He never ceases to amaze me.
“No matter what he does in training or games, he gives everything 100 per cent and he is always up there in the top performers.
“I was really happy for him getting the number one and I know he will do a job for us this year.”
Sutcliffe came close to snatching what could have been the winning try twice in the second half, on the first occasion when he supported Kallum Watkins’ break, but Saints winger Tommy Makinson got across to tackle him into touch.
“I thought he might just scrape the back of my heel and I might just manage to get there, but it was a great tackle,” Sutcliffe said.
“I can’t have any complaints about that. The other one was just a bit unfortunate, with the forward pass. I haven’t seen a replay so I don’t know if it was or not.
“With those couple of chances we could have ended up winning the game, but it just didn’t come off.”
Leeds will get an opportunity to break their duck when they visit promoted Leigh Centurions on Friday.
It will be the Kingstone Press Championship winners’ first home game in Super League since 2005 and Sutcliffe said Rhinos are expecting another battle.
“It’ll be tough,” he predicted.
“I remember when we played them at home last year [in the Qualifiers] it was a really tough game to finish the season off.
“They have made some great signings this year and they will be out to prove they are worthy of a Super League place.
“We are under no illusions, we know how tough it will be, but we are looking forward to it.”