Leeds Rhinos: Livelihoods on the line warns hooker Dwyer

Leeds Rhinos hooker, Brad Dwyer. PIC: Bruce Rollinson
Leeds Rhinos hooker, Brad Dwyer. PIC: Bruce Rollinson
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LIVELIHOODS ARE on the line.

That is the stark warning from hooker Brad Dwyer as Leeds Rhinos prepare to begin their Betfred Super-8s Qualifiers campaign.

Brad Dwyer. PIC: Bruce Rollinson

Brad Dwyer. PIC: Bruce Rollinson

Rhinos are fighting for their top-flight lives for the second time in three seasons after finishing ninth in Super League.

The Qualifiers include Super League’s bottom four and the leading quartet from the Championship. The top three teams after seven rounds will play in the elite competition next year and the final place will go to the winners of the ‘million-pound match’ between the fourth- and fifth-placed clubs.

Rhinos have won just one of their last nine games in all competitions and are still reeling from a 48-12 Ladbrokes Challenge Cup semi-final pasting by Warrington Wolves three days ago. They kick-off their middle-eights fixtures at home to Toulouse Olympique, who finished third in the Championship, on Saturday and Dwyer knows the pressure will be on.

“We are playing for our livelihoods,” he warned. I think the semi-final was a one-off to try and save our season.

“That has not happened so now we need to go and secure our place in Super League so we can do something next year.”

Rhinos had expected to travel to France in the Qualifiers, but Toulouse slipped out of second place – and had to settle for only three home games – on points difference after London Broncos completed their regular campaign with a huge win at Barrow Raiders.

London finished second and will be at home to Rhinos next weekend. Leeds then play Hull KR (home), Widnes Viking (away), Salford Red Devils (home) and Halifax (away) before finishing with a home clash against Toronto Wolfpack.

“We’ve got a big game this week that we need to focus on, but we can’t keep papering over the cracks,” said Dwyer.

“At some point we’ve got to look at ourselves in the mirror and see what’s going wrong. We can’t dwell on it [the semi-final] for too long, but we do need to have a look at ourselves and hurt from it.”

Rhinos led 6-2 for a spell in the semi-final and scored first in the second half, after trailing 26-6 at the break.

Dwyer reckons they are a better side than recent performances suggest and insisted: “I think the first 15-20 minutes of both halves showed what type of team we are, but as soon as something goes against us or it starts to get tough we struggle to find the answers. We did it tough, we had a few injuries and we only had one sub in the second half, but when things go against you is when you’ve got to shine through and show what you’re made of, and I think that’s what we’re lacking at the minute.”

Dwyer added: “We are doing it tough, but I think we all have to look at ourselves individually and our environment and what we need to change. We need to be more resilient when things go against us.”

Rhinos lost just once in the Qualifiers two years ago and Dwyer – who was a member of Warrington’s squad in the middle-eights last term – believes they can at least match that this time. He said: “With the eights I think if we turn up and we’re in a good place and we go about our things right we’ll be fine, we’ll be good.

“But if we turn up and as soon as things go against us we’re on the back foot we’ll be in trouble.

“It’s something we’ve got to reflect on and improve straight away.”