TERRIBLE LEEDS Rhinos were poor in every area, captain Rob Burrow admitted after their St Valentine’s Day massacre.
Rhinos – who won the treble last year – are bottom of First Utility Super League following a 56-12 drubbing at Widnes Vikings.
And Tom Briscoe, Carl Ablett and Ashton Golding all suffered ankle injuries in the first half of Leeds’ second defeat in as many games this season.
Briscoe and Golding were both using a crutch after the match, but Ablett was walking unaided.
It was Burrow’s first game since taking over as captain from long-term knee injury victim Danny McGuire and he said: “We were wrong in all areas.
“There’s no excuses, just terrible.
“I’ve been here a long time and this club’s had quite a few bad days. Rugby league is a rollercoaster – you can be at the top and you can certainly be at the bottom. Today it was terrible, but credit to Widnes, they were outstanding.”
Rhinos have six days to get their chins off the floor before the World Club Challenge showdown with North Queensland Cowboys.
“How you deal with lows and how you react is something that defines a team,” Burrow said. “We have got to address this and move on. We need to bring out the performance of a lifetime next week.”
Burrow admitted the injuries were “a factor”, but conceded: “If we’d had those three out there the result would have been the same. It’s unfortunate we’ve lost key players, but we have got to move on.”
Coach Brian McDermott largely kept his thoughts to himself. Rhinos trailed 16-0 after 13 minutes, before any of their injuries and McDermott said: “It was so fast and so frantic, they scored their tries so fast, I would need to have a look at it before I give a better assessment, but we weren’t great.”
McDermott denied Rhinos’ performance was due to a bad day at the office, but insisted: “I don’t think it is anything long-term.” He also refused to blame the spate of injuries on Widnes’ artificial pitch and said he did not believe the looming world title match had a bearing on Rhinos’ performance. Of the injuries, he said: “I am not sure of the extent of them, but they are very doubtful for next week, all three.”
McDermott revealed long-term casualty Jamie Jones-Buchanan is “close” to returning, but added: “It would be silly to rush him back. Beau Falloon, we will have a look, but he was going to be in a boot for another 10 days at least.
“If we do take him out of the boot and play him it’d be a risk.”