Leeds Rhinos’ Matt Parcell sets out benchmark for success

Matt Parcell.
Matt Parcell.
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FORMER DREAM Team hooker Matt Parcell has no problem with playing second fiddle for Leeds Rhinos as long as he can help them beat the drop.

Parcell has been among Rhinos’ substitutes for successive games since recovering from a rib injury suffered in the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup semi-final defeat by Warrington Wolves on August 5.

Brad Dwyer has retained his place following the No 9’s return and started at hooker in seven of Rhinos’ last eight matches, but Parcell stressed it does not matter who is playing where, provided Rhinos pick enough wins in the Qualifiers to stay in Betfred Super League.

“At this point it is just about winning games,” the 25-year-old Australian said ahead of tonight’s visit of Salford Red Devils.

“It doesn’t really worry me too much.

“I’ve still been playing a fair bit of minutes so that’s all right and it’s just whatever we can do to get the win.”

Dwyer has impressed after being given an extended run in the starting side by director of rugby Kevin Sinfield and first-team coach James Lowes.

Parcell added: “It is working well at the moment. It is up to Kev and Jimmy and whatever they want, but it’s about winning games and that’s the main focus, getting through this and then everyone having a bit of time off and regrouping and starting fresh next year.”

Parcell joined Rhinos from Manly Sea Eagles ahead of the 2017 season and scored 19 tries in 34 appearances during his debut campaign.

He has added seven touchdowns in 26 games this time and admitted he’ll be glad when Rhinos cross the finish line.

Brad Dwyer.

Brad Dwyer.

“It has felt like the longest season ever,” he said. “Thinking back to the start of the season in February it seems like a lifetime ago.

“We are just doing whatever we can to get these wins and get out of this situation, then we can have a bit of a break and come back ready to go next year.”

Parcell confirmed, providing Rhinos aren’t relegated, he will be at Leeds in 2019. He has been linked with a return to the NRL, but said: “I don’t know where that comes from.

“Obviously it has been a tough year for all of us, we wouldn’t like to be in this position, but it’s how it is. Looking back, there’s been eight or nine games we’ve lost by a few points so while everyone’s saying it has been a poor year we could so easily have been up at the top there and fighting it out.

It is working well at the moment. It is up to Kev and Jimmy and whatever they want, but it’s about winning games and that’s the main focus, getting through this and then everyone having a bit of time off and regrouping and starting fresh next year.

Matt Parcell

“That’s how sport is. We’ve just got to get through these next few weeks and regroup and come back.

“It could have been so different, but sport’s like that, there’s just moments in games.

“Maybe if we had won the first couple of games we lost by a point we’d have got the confidence and we’d have carried that through and we’d be fighting for a top-four spot, but if we can knock these next few games out we’ll have a break and come back fresh for next year.”

Two wins from Rhinos’ final three games should secure their top-flight status. Their survival hopes were boosted by a 16-6 success at Widnes Vikings last week and Parcell said: “We needed to win.

“Widnes had a dig, they played like their contracts are on the line so they had a really good go, but the positive out of it was our defence.

“Our attack wasn’t great. The last three weeks we’ve had no problems scoring points, it has been defending when we’ve been in trouble. We turned that around, we were good at defending points, but didn’t get too many opportunities to score some.

“I think going forward that’s going to be good for us.

“Salford are on a roll so if we can stop them scoring I think there’ll be some opportunities for us to score tries.

“It [last week] was just about getting the win. It was scrappy, but we got the result.”

Rhinos held out under heavy pressure at times in the second half at Halton Stadium and Parcell added: “Last year we were really good at that, we defended some leads. We were up by two with 10 to go and we’d defend the game out.

“This year we’ve found it hard to stop teams scoring. In the last few games I think if we can keep teams to low scores we’ll get some results.

“This week is going to be massive for us. Hopefully we’ve got a bit of momentum now in defence so we want to carry that forward into the [tonight’s] game. This game is just as important. Salford are going well and they thrashed us last time so it’s a pretty big one for us.”