Leeds Rhinos have gone into their unwanted late-season break in good heart, according to Liam Sutcliffe.
Rhinos have no game this weekend, when the Betfred Super-8s are put on hold for the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup final.
Their Wembley hopes were dashed when they lost to Hull at the semi-final stage last month, but Sutcliffe said Leeds’ players will put the time off to good use and are in buoyant mood following their 16-14 win over St Helens three days ago.
That got them back on track after a 38-6 drubbing at Wakefield Trinity eight days earlier and Sutcliffe – whose pass created a crucial try for Ryan Hall – said: “It was a really good response.
“Saints have been flying high and they really took the game to us so to get the two points and to bounce back after last week was really pleasing.
“We are happy to have a few days off, just to recharge our batteries.
“Everyone’s pretty happy, we will have a few days to rest up and then we’ll come back in and be ready to have a massive end to the season.”
It will be Rhinos’ first break since the season began in early February.
“It has been pretty non-stop,” Sutcliffe – who played at centre against Saints – reflected.
“I think it will do us good to have a few days off.
“Everyone knows what the job at hand is and how much there is at stake at the end of the season so we will come back in raring to go.”
Boss Brian McDermott felt the clash with Saints had the “intensity of a final” and Sutcliffe said it is good to know Rhinos can come out on top in tight games with something at stake.
“It was really tough, they really came at us,” he added.
“They threw a lot at us so to get the two points and be pleased with our performance will do us good and hopefully put us in good stead for the rest of the year.”
A year ago yesterday Rhinos battled to a scrappy win at London Broncos in the middle-eights Qualifiers. Sutcliffe said that experience makes every game in the Super-8s more precious.
“We’re excited to be part of this again and to be involved in these massive games,” he stated.
“We all know what’s at stake and what the reward is at the end of the year.
“We are pumped and raring to go. We are in a good position, especially after where we finished last year.
“We are second in the table right now and hopefully we can stay there and get a home tie in the semi-finals.
“We are under no illusions, we know it is going to be tough and we have still got a fair few games before then, but everyone is really confident with how we are going and hopefully we can have a massive finish.”
Rhinos’ rematch with Hull, five days after the Cup final, will be crucial.
The Black and Whites are third, three points behind Leeds with four games to play.
A Rhinos win would be a giant step towards a home play-off, but Sutcliffe insisted: “We aren’t really thinking about the table.
“We just want to keep up our performances.
“Obviously we know we need to win to stay second and we will be ready for it.
“They will want to win and stay in the top-four and we are no different so we are looking forward to it.
“There’s a lot of hard work still to do.
“There’s four massive games left and we are under no illusions, every team we play is really going to test us. We just want to kick on from Friday.”
The game against Saints was the last time the current South Stand will be used and Sutcliffe admitted: “If we had lost it would have been a downer on the night and the occasion so it is good we have sent it off with a win. It was absolutely rammed and I am sure every fan in the South Stand will have enjoyed the send off and the occasion.”