THE OPENING win at Warrington Wolves proved Leeds Rhinos are in “great nick”, front-rower Brad Singleton says.
Rhinos got their Betfred Super League title defence off to a strong start with a 16-12 success two days ago.
The visitors scored three tries to two and were in command for much of the game, but Warrington had spells on Rhinos’ goalline and only some remarkable last-ditch tackling kept them out.
That was the most encouraging sign, according to Singleton, but he felt Leeds picked up from where they left off last season with the Grand Final triumph over Castleford Tigers.
“I think we are in great nick,” he said,
“Obviously we will improve and we will get fitter, but to start the season with that sort of hunger and level of fitness and desire to defend, it is great to see.”
Leeds’ previous league victory at Warrington was in 2010, the season before Singleton made his debut, though they did win a play-off semi-final there the following year, when he was not in the side.
That made the two points this week extra special and Singleton reckons the way they coped under heavy pressure at times showed Rhinos have what it takes to be among the top sides again this term.
“For me, it even goes back to under-20s,” Singleton said of Leeds’ poor recent record at Halliwell Jones Stadium.
“I played there in a Grand Final in the under-20s and lost then so it was a massive win, especially in the first game.”
Rhinos won every round one fixture from 2001 to 2015, but were beaten at home by Warrington in 2016 and lost at St Helens last year.
“Everyone wants to get two points early doors,” Singleton stressed.
“To see the character there, it was similar to how we left off last year and it was great to see.
“I think there were glimpses of how Richie [Myler] will demand some more structure out of us and that will give more space for the likes of Moony [Joel Moon] and the opportunity to get some points.
“But for us forwards, we just need to give them a platform to go off and I think for round one we have done all right with that performance.”
Of the importance of getting off to a winning start, Singleton admitted: “I think we are all scarred from that 2016 season.
“We know what losses mean and what performances mean and every game matters.
“We want to win each game and we are here to do that.”
Rhinos coach Brian McDermott gave a debut to Myler at scrum-half with fellow recruits Brad Dwyer and Nathaniel Peteru coming off the bench.
Singleton said: “They all played well.
“Richie from the off had more chance to show what he can do, but I think the two boys that came off the bench will get better and better.
“They were good. The threat we’ve got with Matt Parcell and Brad Dwyer out of dummy-half, I think will be on every opponent’s tip sheet.
“For Peteru, as a forward coming over you have got to adapt, but I thought he didn’t look out of place.”
Rhinos are back in Thursday action next week when they take on former captain Danny McGuire’s Hull KR at Elland Road, eight days before the World Club Challenge at Melbourne Storm.