WE WANT to win it again!
That’s the message from Leeds Rhinos forward Carl Ablett ahead of tonight’s Ladbrokes Challenge Cup quarter-final at Hull.
Rhinos lifted the Challenge Cup last August for the first time since 1999, having lost six finals since then, but Ablett insisted being holders doesn’t mean priorities are different this time around.
“Each year’s the same, I don’t think you want it any more or any less, if you’ve won it or not won it,” Ablett stressed.
“It’s the Challenge Cup and you don’t get many opportunities to win these trophies. We got a taste of it last year, but we’ve got the same desire this year as we had before we won it.
“It’s about wanting to win as many trophies as you can. We are two games away from a final, so it’s not that far away.
“We need to put a good performance in against a good Hull team.”
Rhinos are into a run of matches which could shape their season. Currently a point clear at the top of First Utility Super League, they are at home to second-placed St Helens a week today, followed by a trip to Wigan Warriors – third, two points behind Rhinos – six days later.
“That’s what you want,” Ablett insisted. “That’s what the competition is meant to be like this year.
“It is meant to be competitive each week. We’ve got a big challenge ahead, it’s going to be high intensity, but that’s what we want.
“Then we’re going to go into the final eight play-off games and they’re going to be high-intensity so it will be a good test for us.”
Last Sunday’s 32-20 home win over Hull lifted Rhinos above Saints on the Super League table, but was only their fourth victory in nine league and cup matches since late-April.
“I thought there were some good signs there, but there’s still some areas where we probably weren’t good enough,” Ablett admitted
“If we make those sorts of errors (tonight) we’ll probably get punished. We will take things from last Sunday’s game, as we do most weeks when we review games.
“There are things we did well and things we need to improve. We’ve gone through the video and picked out what we can and hopefully we’ll take that into this one.”
Ablett added: “Scoring points has never been an issue for us.
“We are the highest-scoring team in Super League, so we know we can score points. It’s some of the errors we make and the pressure that puts on our defence that we need to work on.
“At times our defence hasn’t been good enough. It goes hand in hand, if you are a bit too loose with your attack, your defence suffers.
“In the Challenge Cup you don’t get any second chances, so we’re going to have to execute our game plan and play with some control.”
The league encounter was a bruising clash and Danny McGuire, Liam Sutcliffe and Adam Cuthbertson are all in doubt for tonight, despite being named in Rhinos’ initial 19-man squad.
But Ablett said: “It will be 17 v 17 and whoever plays, we will have enough quality in our squad to believe we can get the job done.
“I am sure Hull will be fired up and desperate to get as far as they can in this competition.
“We are as well, so it has got all the makings of a good Cup tie. I enjoy playing at the KC, it’s a good stadium and the Hull fans are passionate.
“You like to play in those atmospheres. I’m sure we’ll take a few fans over and they’ll get behind us and make it a really good occasion.”