LEEDS RHINOS are out of the Cup, but facing seven finals.
That’s the view of teenage prop Mikolaj Oledzki as Rhinos prepare to begin a fight for their Betfred Super League lives.
Rhinos’ Wembley hopes were crushed when they slumped to a 48-12 defeat by Warrington Wolves in a Ladbrokes Challenge Cup semi-final two days ago.
They start their Super-8s Qualifiers campaign at home to Championship side Toulouse Olympique on Saturday and Oledzki warned they have to start finding some form – and quickly. Rhinos have won only one of their last nine league and cup matches and Oledzki said: “We have got seven games coming up that are must-win.
“Starting now we are building up towards these games and we are going to do anything and everything to win these games.”
Oledzki admitted it will take a while for the hurt from last Sunday to fade. Leeds led briefly early on, but were 26-6 behind at half-time and only Warrington’s decision to let non-kicker Ben Westwood take their final conversion prevented Rhinos conceding a half century of points.
Starting now we are building up towards these games and we are going to do anything and everything to win these games.Mikolaj Oledzki
“This was probably the toughest game we were going to face,” said the 19-year-old.
“It meant a lot to us. We didn’t finish well in Super League so it was the only thing that could save our season and get some silverware.
“The disappointment hurts much more.
“We know we have to attack the middle-eights hard, but there is no silverware to win.
“All the boys are hugely disappointed and it is a huge kick in the teeth.
“We were 80 minutes away from Wembley so it is a tough result to take, but we can’t dwell on it for too long because that will affect future performances.”
The loss at University of Bolton Stadium was the biggest game of Oledzki’s career and on a personal level he reckons he will be better for the experience.
He said: “It was good to be involved in a semi-final.
“It is a huge honour to play for a club like Leeds Rhinos in a big game like that. Those are the kind of games you work towards.
“You want to get the result, but it’s still great to be involved in such a big game.
“It was a big game I wanted to win and everyone did.
“We all put 100 per cent in and it’s disappointing we didn’t get there in the end.”
The Cup loss was a disappointing end to a momentous week for Oledzki whose partner Amy Brookes gave birth to their daughter, Luna Raene, eight days before the semi-final.
“It has been eventful,” Oledzki said.
“It has been great bringing the little one home and welcoming her to our family.”