BOSS BRIAN McDermott has admitted Leeds Rhinos are “in a hole”, but he insists he remains confident in his team.
Rhinos’ hopes of the treble are hanging by a threat after a 29-22 loss to Castleford Tigers last night – their third defeat since the Challenge Cup final.
Leeds lost all their four games after winning at Wembley last year and McDermott said: “We are missing too many tackles and dropping too much ball, that’s the fact of it.
“It looks like last year. We are not playing well, but am I concerned – no. I trust the group. We are in a bit of a hole at the moment and we’ve got to dig ourselves out of it, but I’d rather not be with another group than this one.
“They are a fantastic group of men and I trust them to come good when we need to.”
Rhinos’ medical staff are assessing skipper Kevin Sinfield, who limped off with a dead leg.
Last night’s result means all the top four still have a chance of claiming the league leaders’ shield.
Rhinos are now in danger of finishing outside the top-two - and having an away semi-final - as Wigan Warriors, Huddersfield Giants and St Helens could all overtake them.
Leeds will slip to second in the First Utility Super-8s table if Wigan win at Saints tonight.
Whatever happens in that game, should Huddersfield win at Hull this evening and beat Leeds next Friday, Leeds will drop to at best third.
Tigers had lost their previous three games and coach Daryl Powell said: “I thought the team effort was superb.
“The half-backs did some special things and I thought Luke Dorn was very, very good at the back, with and without the ball.
“Our forward pack was superb and Andy Lynch was outstanding again.”
Meanwhile, Rhinos chief executive Gary Hetherington has confirmed under-19s hooker Robbie Ward - who has made three senior appearances this year - will not be offered a contract for next season.
Featherstone Rovers prop Garreth Carvell, who began his career with Leeds and also had a spell at Castleford, has retired due to injury.
Hunslet Hawks’ former Rhinos academy full-back Jimmy Watson has signed a new contract keeping him at the club for the 2016 campaign.