ENGLAND CENTRE Kallum Watkins insists Leeds Rhinos will travel to Wigan Warriors on Friday in confident mood after breaking their First Utility Super League duck.
The 20-16 victory over Huddersfield Giants four days ago was Leeds’ first win since last October’s Grand Final against Wigan and Watkins said it was just what the doctor ordered ahead of this week’s rematch.
Wigan will be fired up for revenge, but Watkins feels some of the pressure is off Rhinos, who have climbed from bottom to ninth place in the table.
“You could say the monkey’s off our back,” Watkins said.
“We wanted to perform well, as well as win and we performed well in terms of our application and our attitude.
“Defensively we were good and we showed the right attitude to that.
“We knew it was going to be a tough game and there was a lot of pressure on both teams.
“We both had a lot of personnel out and young fellas coming in, but we are pretty happy with how we applied ourselves, especially in the second half.
“We showed the right attitude and when opportunities came we took them.”
Rhinos trailed twice and Watkins admitted: “We’ve got to give Huddersfield credit too. They stuck in the game and they looked a threat all over the park, so we can take loads of positives into this week.
“All the fellas worked their socks off and that gave us the opportunity to get the points.
“We’re pleased we did that and we can move on to a tough game this week.”
Wigan have won their four league games so far and are unbeaten against domestic opposition at DW Stadium in more than a year.
“It is never easy going to Wigan,” Watkins admitted.
“Coming up with a good performance is down to a lot of hard work, but we showed that on Friday night and that will give us some confidence.
“We will go there with confidence and play what we see.
“It will be a tough, attritional battle so we need to turn up in good form and good shape.”
Rhinos were without nine players from their 26-strong senior squad against Huddersfield.
Mitch Garbutt is now available following suspension and Beau Falloon and Jamie Jones-Buchanan could return after injury, but Joel Moon and Ash Handley both suffered knocks which may keep them out this week.
“We have got some injuries and we are a few players down so we will have to see how they go through the week in terms of recovering, but we are looking forward to it,” Watkins said.
“We have got faith in people who come into the team. They want to play and get some game time.
“We will be looking for a big performance and we will certainly need it. We do have a few injuries, but that is part and parcel of the game and you have got to be able to deal with them and cope with those little setbacks.
“We haven’t started well this year, but we are pleased we’ve got off the mark and we will take that into this week.”