DREAM TEAM forward Carl Ablett admits Leeds Rhinos are facing a long, tough winter.
Rhinos’ season ended three days ago when they suffered a last-gasp home defeat to Catalan Dragons in the first round of the Super League play-offs.
It was the first time Rhinos have been eliminated so early since 2006 and Ablett described the finale to their year as “pretty devastating”.
“It was a tough one to take and it’s going to be a long off-season and a long time reflecting on this,” said the England second-rower.
“It is a strange situation, but we need to review the season, review things and see how we go for next year.”
Rhinos finished sixth on the Super League table, their worst position since 1996, but ended the season with the Challenge Cup in the Headingley trophy cabinet, after a 15-year wait.
Ablett said. “We started the season really well and we were really dominant.
“We were up in the top-two and we could make some excuses around Wembley, because we suffered a few defeats that really hurt us.
“After that we had a few tight games and we weren’t far away. To go into the play-offs on the back of five league defeats was really disappointing, but it didn’t feel like we were massively out of form.
“It felt like we lost a few games that were tight and could have gone either way, but we know the play-offs are different and we were expecting a better performance.
“I don’t think we defended like we have been doing. They made too many line-breaks and we made too many errors.
“Sometimes you have to give the opposition credit and I thought they played well and capitalised on our errors.”
Ablett insisted Rhinos can’t blame the Challenge Cup final success for the poor end to their campaign.
“We should be used to it,” he said. “We’ve been to Wembley a few times and played right through without a break.
“That’s just an excuse. Physically most of us feel pretty good, it’s not like we are drained and low on energy.
“It is still a bit raw. Over the next few days it will be about reviewing things, because it’s not good enough for a club like ours.
“I am sure there’ll be a big review and we’ll have to see what we can do after that.
“We will have to show what kind of team we are and take it on the chin that we haven’t been good enough.
“We’ve got to reflect over the time we’ve got until we get back into training and then it all starts again, so we will have to be ready go again next year.”
Ablett is expected to be included in the England squad for next month’s Four Nations series in Australia and New Zealand.
“I’ll get back into training next week and then train until the squad is selected,” he said.