LEEDS RHINOS need to prove last week’s defeat by St Helens was just a bad day at the office when they travel to Catalans Dragons tomorrow.
That’s how prop Brad Singleton sees what has become a crucial First Utility Super-8s fixture for the table-toppers.
“I think last week was a bit of a blip,” Singleton said of the 32-18 post-Wembley defeat, Leeds’ first loss in eight games.
“We were flat for obvious reasons really, but I think there was a lot of effort there. We all dug in, but the next three games are all really important, because we want that top spot. It starts this week and we have to get our preparation right. It is a tough trip with the travel over and everything and Catalans are a class side, especially over there.
“They beat visiting teams every week, but it’s up to us now to get our form back and go ahead with it.”
Rhinos have won their last four games in France, including a 38-22 success in March. Singleton said: “Over the last few years we’ve prepared right for it.
“We feel comfortable in going over there, just getting the job done and going home. Touch wood we can get it right this time.”
Catalans boast a big pack and the Leeds prop admitted he is relishing that challenge.
“I like playing against them,” said the rugged Cumbrian. “It is very forward-based and I do love that, rather than little jinky things.
“They have got some impressive backs as well, people like Morgan Escare, but it is always a physical battle, which I do enjoy.”
Wigan will go level on points with Rhinos if they win at home to injury-hit Hull tonight. Singleton stressed Rhinos are need to maintain a two-point gap at the end of the round.
“That’s important because Wigan are a very good side and you can’t see them losing many points,” he said. “We want to keep ourselves at the top and hold the fort.”
On a personal note, the 22-year-old front-rower has become an essential part of Rhinos’ side this year, missing only two games so far. He played in his first final 13 days ago, when Rhinos crushed Hull KR at Wembley and feels that experience has taken him to a new level.
“There was a fair bit of relief when the side was named,” he said. “I was over the moon, really. It was a good weekend and just a shame we couldn’t back it up against Saints. But the experience will help me, a lot of our boys know what to do in finals and how to switch on. You do take bits from it.
“You don’t sit there and study it, but it does rub off on you and you gain experience just from being around them. I think I am a better player now than I was last year, definitely. I think I had a point to prove just to get myself right and to impress this year. I hope I have done that, but there’s still a long way to go.”