A WIN this weekend would create some “positivity” in what has been a traumatic season for Leeds Rhinos and their new overseas forward Nathaniel Peteru.
He has spent much of the campaign on the casualty list, watching as Rhinos faded – after a bright opening – to finish ninth in Betfred Super League.
That means they are gearing up for a battle against relegation in the middle-eights Qualifiers which will come after a Ladbrokes Challenge Cup semi-final meeting with Warrington Wolves on Sunday.
“It is a big carrot, just to come out with a bit of positivity from the season,” Peteru said of the Cup tie at Bolton Wanderers’ Macron Stadium.
“It hasn’t gone the way we wanted it to, but that’s sport. We are really looking to make a statement this week.
“Hopefully all the boys are on their game and we can do a job on Warrington. Last week was disappointing, but we will go into Sunday confident.”
Peteru’s successful comeback from injury was one of Rhinos’ few plus points from last Friday’s 38-22 loss at Salford Red Devils which completed their regular-season campaign.
Signed from Gold Coast Titans, Peteru suffered a torn biceps muscle during his Rhinos debut against Warrington in February. He returned in May, in the home clash with the same opponents, but managed only three appearances before suffering the same injury to his other arm.
The 26-year-old front-rower came off the bench in the match five days ago and confirmed he got through unscathed and is available for the semi-final.
“I’m feeling really good,” said the New Zealand-born front-rower .
“I thought I had a solid game so I’m looking to build on that going forward.
“The lungs are sweet and my arms are really good.
“Credit to the physio’ staff and the surgeon; I came back nearly a month early compared to last time.
“I felt good and, touch wood, there’s no more injuries.”
Peteru had aimed to be back in time for the Challenge Cup semi-final, but had a scare before the Salford game.
He said: “I had a bit of a niggle at training last week with my foot so I tried to stay light and it paid off.
“I felt good in the game and hopefully I can build on that going into the game this week.”
The Cup clash will be the biggest match of Peretu’s senior career.
He said: “I am really looking forward to it. I really need to become a leader now and step up my game.
“It’s going to be good to get out there against a top team like Warrington.
“They are near the top for a reason, but we are looking to win this game.”
Sunday’s will be Peteru’s sixth match for Leeds – and his third against Warrington.
He added: “I only seem to come back against them!
“Hopefully it’s a good one. I didn’t know a lot about the Challenge Cup until I came here, but I’ve always watched the final at Wembley.
“It is a big, traditional comp’ here and it’s a big game for us this week.”
Rhinos’ showdown with Warrington (2.45pm) is the second part of a semi-final double-header also featuring St Helens’ tie against Catalans Dragons (12.30pm).