INJURED FORWARD Anthony Mullally says it is a case of when Leeds Rhinos turn their season around, not if.
Mullally insisted Rhinos are confident they can beat anybody when they get their game together – including tonight’s title-chasing hosts Warrington Wolves. A sixth successive defeat would set a new record for Rhinos’ worst run in the summer era and equal their poorest sequence in Super League.
The omens are not good for Leeds, who have lost on all five previous regular-season visits to Warrington under boss Brian McDermott, but Mullally vowed nobody in Rhinos’ camp is raising the white flag.
“All we can do is keep working hard, keep turning up and the main thing of all is keeping positive,” stressed the former Widnes forward.
“We can’t keep our heads down, which we haven’t been doing one bit. The coaching staff and the lads have been as positive as we can be.
“We know it is going to turn at some point, it is just a matter of when.”
Last year’s treble winners have lost 12 of their 15 First Utility Super League fixtures so far this year and are two points adrift at the bottom of the table.
Rhinos will need to close a six-point gap in just eight games to snatch a place in the Super-8s.
Mullally – who will miss tonight’s game after suffering a dislocated finger in the Magic Weekend showdown with Wigan Warriors six days ago – said they are confident it can be done, but he admitted: “We haven’t really spoken about that.
“We are just focusing on getting everything to click and it to change and when it does we know what we are capable of.
“What happens with other teams is not in our hands, we have just got to concentrate on doing all we can do.
“We are working hard in training trying to put it right and it has got to turn. It has turned for most teams this year, but it has just not happened for us yet – but it is going to.
“I am sick of losing, everybody is, but we aren’t coming in and moping around.
“You wouldn’t think we are in the position we are now, but at the same time we know we are and we are not taking it lightly.
“There’s two ways to go, you can either keep your heads down and give up or you can stay positive and that’s what we are doing. There’s nobody we can’t beat once we get our performance together. It’s just about being consistent with our defence and attack. Hopefully it comes together this week and we can go on from there.”
Despite the 40-8 scoreline, Mullally reckons there were aspects of last week’s game Rhinos can build on. “I think our defence was a lot better,” he said. “The scoreline didn’t end up great, but it was 12-4 at half-time and just a couple of tries after half-time affected us.
“But definitely in the first half I thought it could have been anyone’s game.”
Rhinos have lost five successive games in all competitions twice previously during the summer era, in 1996 and 2006.
Their worst run of successive Super League defeats came in 2000 when they lost their opening five – the last of which was a 44-10 drubbing at Warrington.
Tonight’s game will be refereed by Chris Campbell, who played eight times for Warrington in 2000.
He made his Super League debut as a referee when Warrington lost to Wakefield Trinity Wildcats two weeks ago and was also in charge of Wakefield’s Magic Weekend win over Catalans Dragons last Sunday.
Richard Silverwood was due to be in charge tonight, but was replaced earlier in the week because of what an RFL spokeswoman said was an “internal matter”.
Full-time referees Robert Hicks (calf muscle) and Phil Bentham (broken thumb) are currently injured.
Meanwhile, Rhinos’ Cameron Smith and Mikolaj Oledzki are both in the England academy squad to face France in a curtain-raiser at HJ Stadium today (5.30pm). The England squad also includes Wakefield Trinity Wildcats’ former Leeds winger Judah Mazive and clubmate James Batchelor, alongside Castleford Tigers’ Conor Fitzsimmons.
Rhinos under-19s are away to Castleford tomorrow (2pm).