THE next game is the most important for Leeds Rhinos, chief executive Gary Hetherington says.
Rhinos play host to Catalans Dragons on Friday, eight days after a record 66-10 loss at Castleford Tigers.
Hetherington has indicated in an email to fans that boss Brian McDermott, his players and the club’s senior management have a month to turn things around or changes could be made. But he insisted the important thing now is to put the derby defeat aside and look forward.
“Last week was quite a traumatic experience for everybody,” Hetherington said. “The only way of rectifying it is through Friday’s game.
“We want to get back on with the game and get back to where we want to be. Last week has gone now, we can’t do anything about it – it is all on the next game and the next game after that and so on.
“We are only at the start of the season, we’re not half-way through or near the end and we need to get back to doing what we do best. Hopefully last week proves to be a blip.”
Hetherington says he has received a “record” number of emails following the drubbing at Castleford. That underlined how badly the defeat hurt Rhinos’ fans, but he stressed: “There’s no more disappointed people than the players.
“I know from the response I’ve had how disappointed the fans have been, but the most disappointed group of people in the club are the players themselves. There is a real determination to respond.”
Rhinos Under-19s are due to face Catalans in a curtain-raiser on Friday (5.30pm). Yorkshire Carnegie played at Headingley in driving rain last Sunday, but Hetherington said there are no major problems with the playing surface.
“The pitch has held up pretty well,” he said.
Meanwhile, McDermott and Bradford Bulls opposite number Geoff Toovey are to hold talks about the future of Leeds scrum-half Jordan Lilley.
Lilley spent the first month of the season on loan at Bradford, but that deal was cancelled when he was called into Leeds’ side last week as a late replacement for Rob Burrow, who was ill. Because he played for Rhinos, if he returns to Bulls there will be no recall for the first month of his new loan.