OUR ATTACK will improve. That’s centre Kallum Watkins’ message as Leeds Rhinos prepare to begin their home Betfred Super League campaign against Salford Red Devils tonight.
Rhinos have touched down only four times and scored 21 points in their opening two games, but Watkins insists the tries will come when they hang on to the ball.
A 17-14 win at Leigh Centurions last week, after losing 6-4 to St Helens in round one, got Leeds off the mark and Watkins said they are “reasonably happy” with the way things have gone so far.
But he admitted they can’t just rely on defence getting them out of trouble and need to start putting the opposition under more pressure.
“It is just about finding ourselves in the right positions,” said Watkins, who was Leeds’ top try scorer in 2016 with 18.
“Last week we were stuck on our line a bit more than they were.
“We got ourselves out of trouble quite a lot, but we didn’t continue that and apply pressure to them.
“We kept giving the ball back and we gave them opportunities. In terms of that I think we have to stay composed and keep the ball better and the attack should come through that, with us being disciplined with the ball.”
Rhinos lost their first four competitive games last year and Watkins said it is good to be off the mark.
“Last week’s game was tough, but we got the win in the end,” he said. “We’ve got plenty of work to do in terms of ball in hand, but the defence was there to stop them from scoring near the end.
“It was a bit scary at times, but
we saved some tries with some fantastic efforts. Moments like that we need, but we can’t be relying on moments like that too many times.
“Our ball control wasn’t great in the second half and that was a key factor.
“To come out and get the win was great, but we know we’ve got a lot of work to do.”
A similar defensive effort will be needed tonight, Watkins reckons.
“It’s important to get the defence right and save tries because you are going to be put under pressure whatever game you are in,” he added
“If we can stop the tries and defend the best we can and get ourselves out of trouble, hopefully the attack will flow nicely.
“It is just not going for us at the minute, but we are working on getting that right.
“It is going to take a bit of time, but you learn from your errors.
“It is our first home game this week and we’re looking forward to it.”
Watkins has spent his entire professional career at Leeds, but was a Salford fan and a ball boy at their old Willows ground.
“I enjoy playing against Salford,” he said.
“They are a club I grew up watching. They have got a good team, they have recruited well in the off-season and they’ve started pretty well.
“They will have been disappointed with their first half against Wigan, but they got themselves back in it and last week against Huddersfield they were very good and got a well-deserved win.
“They are going to come here very confident and wanting to get the result, but for us we just need to perform to the best we can, keep the ball as much as we can and defend the way we have been defending and it gives us a great chance of winning.”
Rhinos under-19s play Widnes Vikings at Halton Stadium tomorrow (2pm).