LEEDS RHINOS “won’t take too much” out of their Christmas win at Wakefield Trinity, but centre Liam Sutcliffe reckons it has given them something to build on.
Rhinos scored three tries to two in a 17-10 success three days ago.
Both teams were missing key players and lacked cohesion in attack, though they defended strongly and some individuals – including Jordan Lilley, Brad Dwyer, Jack Ormondroyd and Mikolaj Oledzki for Leeds –caught the eye.
Sutcliffe felt it was good to get back into action, for the first time since last October’s Grand Final triumph, but admitted the game was no indication of how Rhinos will perform when the real business begins in February,
“It was a typical Boxing Day game,” Leeds’ new No 4 reflected.
“It was very slow, very sloppy and heavy underfoot. I don’t think we’ll take too much out of it, there were some positives and some negatives as well.
“Wakefield is always a tough place to go and we lost there last season, so we are happy with the win and at least we’ve got something to build on now.
“We’ve gone there and got a win and it gives us something to work on in pre-season.”
Trinity’s side included Sutcliffe’s former Hunslet Warriors and Rhinos team-mate Jordan Baldwinson, who joined Trinity in the closed-season.
“It was a bit weird playing against him,” Sutcliffe said.
It was very slow, very sloppy and heavy underfoot. I don’t think we’ll take too much out of it, there were some positives and some negatives as well.Liam Sutcliffe
“I didn’t come across him, to be honest – he stayed in the middle so I never got chance to tackle him or him tackle me. It was just weird seeing him in a different top, but we’ll be seeing him a lot this year.”
Rhinos will resume training in the new year ahead of three more pre-season games. A second-string side are set to visit League One outfit Coventry Bears on Friday, January 19, Leeds travel to the Jungle for a Grand Final rematch against Castleford Tigers two days later and complete their pre-season campaign at Featherstone Rovers the following Friday.
Preparations will step up when the champions’ England duon Ryan Hall and Kallum Watkinsn return to training next week, along with overseas players Joel Moon, Adam Cuthbertson, Matt Parcell, Mitch Garbutt and Keith Galloway.
“It has been good,” Sutcliffe said of pre-season so far. “It has been tough, we’ve done a lot of weights and fitness and it has been good to get that over and done with. In the new year, we’ll come in and start to implement some game-plan and some structure and go into the friendlies really firing to get ready for the season.”
New Year’s Day will mark a month until Rhinos’ Betfred Super League opener away to Warrington Wolves and the World Club Challenge at Melbourne Storm is now only 49 days away.
“Everyone will be back in after new year and that’s when we can really get combinations going and really work towards starting the season well,” Sutcliffe predicted.
“We want to build some momentum over these friendly games going into the season and I am sure we will.
“We’ve got a massive ask to go over to Australia and try and win the World Club Challenge within a week and we need to put a marker down in the friendlies and the start of the season and, hopefully, go there and put in a performance.”