QUALIFYING FOR next year’s World Club Series is a major goal for Leeds Rhinos, according to stand-off Liam Sutcliffe.
Rhinos had last weekend off while Warrington Wolves, Wigan Warriors and St Helens were involved in a shootout with NRL teams St George Illawarra, Brisbane Broncos and South Sydney Rabbitohs – the Aussies winning the series 3-0.
Leeds have featured in six World Club Challenge matches over the past 10 years – winning three of them – but Sutcliffe has never lined up against an Aussie club team and said it is one of his personal ambitions.
“We’d have liked to have been involved,” the 20-year-old admitted. “It was the first World Club Series and it would have been really nice to be part of that and to get a run against one of the Aussie sides. Hopefully this year we can go one step further and get some good performances in the play-offs, hopefully reach the Grand Final and be in it next year.”
Sutcliffe said Rhinos have attempted to turn their unwanted break into a positive as they prepare for Thursday’s home clash with Huddersfield Giants in First Utility Super League round three.
“We have had an extra week to practice a few things we need to work on,” Sutcliffe said.
“We’ve been doing that and we’ll be ready to go on Thursday.”
Rhinos will be looking to make it three wins from three after opening victories over Hull KR and Widnes Vikings.
“It’s good to get off on a winning roll, going two from two,” Sutcliffe said. “We’ve set a standard, getting our first few wins.
“We’ve come out in the second half of both games and got a few tries and it’s been good to get some points on the board. The first 20 minutes at Hull KR were a bit disappointing defence-wise, so to keep Widnes to one try was a big aim of ours.
“We managed to do that and score a fair few ourselves, so that was pleasing and I think we’ve played some good stuff with the ball.
“I don’t think we’re afraid to throw it about. We’re looking for the offload all the time and we showed against Widnes that once we get the offloads away we can go through the line and get some tries. But we won’t get carried away at all. We are still working hard in training.”
Sutcliffe wasn’t selected to face Hull KR, but came in on the bench against Widnes, replacing Rob Burrow. He said: “I was really pleased when Brian (coach Brian McDermott) told me I was in the team.
“Personally performance-wise I don’t think I played that well, so I’ve got my head down, trained really hard and hopefully I’ll get a go on Thursday.”