AUSSIE FORWARD Mitch Garbutt admits he is struggling to put a finger on why Leeds Rhinos have underperformed so badly this year.
Rhinos have won just two of their 10 competitive games this year – nine First Utility Super League fixtures and the Dacia World Club Challenge – and their title defence seems over with less than a third of the season completed.
Only the top four teams qualify for the Super League semi-finals and Rhinos are already eight points adrift of fourth place.
They are four points behind Saturday’s hosts Salford Red Devils, who are eighth and another defeat this weekend would leave them with a mountain to climb simply to secure a place in the Super-8s.
“It’s not through lack of effort,” Garbutt – who joined the club mid-way through last year – insisted of Rhinos’ poor form. “We are trying our backsides off every day. We are training really hard and we’ve been training really well.
“We are putting the effort in and the desire is there, but it just doesn’t seem to be working for us at the moment. Unfortunately at the moment nothing seems to be going right. Everything seems to be going against us, but there’s always next week.
“We’ve just got to get over it and move on. Unfortunately we haven’t been playing to our potential this year and that’s the disappointing thing. We are a very talented squad, but we just aren’t doing it at the moment.”
Last week was one of the worst in Rhinos’ Super League history, as they lost at home to fellow strugglers Wakefield Trinity Wildcats and Hull KR.
Garbutt admitted Rovers deserved their 30-10 victory on Friday evening – and he paid tribute to Leeds academy product Robbie Mulhern, who scored the visitors’ final try.
Mulhern made just two substitute appearances for the champions last year and was allowed to leave at the end of the campaign.
Garbutt said: “They have got a talented squad. I thought Robbie Mulhern played very well, that’s probably the best I’ve seen him play.
“They do have a lot of injuries, so I am sure they are going to get better and better as they get players back.”
Upcoming opponents Salford have had an inconsistent year so far and were beaten 32-18 at Wakefield three days ago.
“The game can’t come quick enough,” Garbutt said of Leeds’ next match.
“After you lose and you get outplayed across the park you want to get back out there straight away. We will be back to the drawing board and we’ll be looking to perform better this week.”