INEXPERIENCE WAS not to blame for Leeds Rhinos’ surprise 40-36 loss at London Broncos, second-row star Stevie Ward said.
Rhinos’ team had an average age of just over 22 and included three debutants among six teenagers, with only two players aged above 30.
Coach Brian McDermott rested nine members of his likely side for next week’s Tetley’s Challenge Cup final, but Ward said that wasn’t the reason for Leeds’ loss.
“London were really good,” he stated.
“We missed a few soft tackles and once they got a roll on it was tough to stop them.”
Ward added: “I wouldn’t say it was down to inexperience.
“We had a good team out and Mac would not have picked the team if he didn’t think it was capable of doing the job. We had some young players in the team, making their debut and they did well.
“They will learn from it and they are the players of the future.”
Leeds Rhinos will next be back in London on Thursday, when they head to the capital to begin the final Wembley countdown.
Ward insisted yesterday’s defeat will have no bearing on Cup final preparations.
“We will just have to get our chins up and get on with it and go again,” Ward said.
“We will have a big build-up this week.
“It was always going to be tough coming down here.
“But a lot of the lads are resting up at home and hopefully that will tell and we’ll put a good performance in at Wembley.”