Tomorrow’s derby will be the biggest league game against Castleford during Rob Burrow’s time at Leeds Rhinos, he says.
Burrow, a Cas lad, admitted both teams will see it as a must-win fixture as they battle for a place in the First Utility Super-8s.
Rhinos are bottom of the table, five points adrift of eighth-placed Tigers and out of the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup following last week’s defeat at Huddersfield Giants.
Burrow said: “Cas-Leeds games are great anyway, especially at Headingley.
“It is probably the biggest game against Cas in my career.
“It means so much in the fact we have only got the league to focus on and we know we will have to play a lot better than we did on Friday to beat a quality Cas side.”
With 10 league games remaining, Rhinos are 14 points short of the 20 points which secured eighth place for Catalans Dragons last year.
But Burrow insisted they aren’t settling for a place in the Qualifiers, against the other bottom-four teams in Super League and the Kingstone Press Championship’s leading quartet.
“We are always confident in our ability,” Burrow stated.
“We are getting people back.
“We had Zak [Hardaker] and Cuthbo [Adam Cuthbertson] back on Friday.
“Slowly, but surely they are getting more game time and that will make the team better.
“On the flip side, the young lads are doing an absolutely fantastic job.
“It is pretty much like we did when we first started, they are getting chance because of injuries, but the good players stand up and make an impact on the game and they all are.
“The likes of Jordan Lilley and Ashton Golding have been outstanding every time they’ve played, so they are the positives.
“They will get better and better for this experience, but I’d like to play in some games where we are winning as well.”
Burrow said Rhinos are trying to stay upbeat in the face of a succession of defeats.
He added: “Throughout the season we have played poor.
“You get down, but in the last three or four losses we’ve had a really good impact on the game and the effort has been there.
“We are trying hard, but I think we took a step back last Friday.
“We didn’t perform as well as we did the week before, but credit to Huddersfield.
“They managed the game really well and put us off our game a little bit, but we will never bow our heads.
“We will always be confident in what we can do and we’ll look to improve every week. Things aren’t going right, but we are a confident bunch - we believe in our ability and we will always do that.
“There’d be nothing better for us at this stage than a derby win over Cas. They will have something to say about that and they’ll see it as a great time to beat Leeds at Headingley, but we have got to react, get out on the pitch and start climbing that ladder.”