SUPER LEAGUE champions Leeds Rhinos need to dig deep and show their true character this week, says forward Brett Delaney.
Rhinos are bottom of First Utility Super League after losing their opening two games, including a 56-12 drubbing at Widnes Vikings four days ago.
That was the worst-possible preparation for this weekend’s eagerly-awaited Dacia World Club Challenge meeting with Australian Grand Final winners North Queensland Cowboys.
Delaney admitted Rhinos had to endure a “tough” video session when they reviewed Sunday’s drubbing, but the focus now is on putting things right for the big game in four days’ time.
“We have got to get it done, get sorted and move on to this week,” he insisted.
Delaney denied the looming showdown with the Australian champions was at the back of Leeds’ minds when they lined up to face Widnes.
St Helens, who take on Sydney Roosters in the opening match of the three-game World Club Series, also suffered a shock loss in round two when they were crushed 44-10 at Salford Red Devils.
But Delaney stressed: “We weren’t thinking about that (the World Club Challenge).
“Credit to Widnes, they played really well. We knew it was going to be tough, but we just didn’t turn up.
“We are really disappointed.”
Delaney said he had not seen such a poor performance coming.
Leeds were 16-0 down after 13 minutes, before a succession of injuries struck and the Australian back-rower said: “We had a good week in training and took some positives out of the (round one) game against Warrington.
“We just didn’t turn up and execute them. We let some soft tries in.
“We can’t use injuries as an excuse. There’s 13 blokes on that pitch and we’ve only got ourselves to blame.”
Rhinos beat Manly Sea Eagles in the 2012 World Club Challenge a week after a 20-6 loss at Wigan Warriors, but the task is even harder this time.
The treble-winners are without Kevin Sinfield, Kylie Leuluai, Jamie Peacock and the injured Danny McGuire from their Grand Final-winning team and Tom Briscoe, Carl Ablett and Ashton Golding suffered ankle damage against Widnes, joining Jamie Jones-Buchanan, Stevie Ward and Beau Falloon on the casualty list.
The injuries have reduced coach Brian McDermott’s options and Delaney admitted Rhinos are facing a “test of character” over the next few days and on Sunday evening.
But he insisted: “We will bounce back. We have been here before, we will stick together, knuckle down this week and get on with it. We have got a good squad.
“Injuries are part of rugby league, we will dust ourselves off and go again.
“It (last Sunday’s result and performance) was not good enough, we are better than that. It was disappointing, especially going into a big week. We have got to take it on the chin and get on with it.”
Leeds’ 2012 success was the last time a Super League club won the World Club Challenge and the expanded series saw a 3-0 Australian whitewash last year. Delaney said: “We want to do it for our club and the badge, for our fans and obviously the English game.”