DIRECTOR of rugby Kevin Sinfield revealed young star Jack Walker “owed” Leeds Rhinos his starring performance in yesterday’s 34-6 win at Halifax.
Walker was outstanding in attack and defence as Rhinos all-but secured their place in Betfred Super League for next season.
Leeds went two points clear at the top of the Qualifiers table and their for and against means they could lose to third-placed Toronton Wolfpack by 31 points at Emerald Headingley on Friday and still be safe.
Sinfield described Walker as the “best player on the field” and revealed: “He owed us a good performance.
“He turned up slightly late for the bus so we told him beforehand he needed to repay the lads and I thought he did.
“I thought he was outstanding and if he plays like that he puts himself in the category of one of the best full-backs in the competition.”
We would love to finish top of the Qualifiers. We know there’s a scrap beneath us and at the minute it is in our hands. Why would we want to rely on points difference?Kevin Sinfield
Part-timers Halifax, who finished fourth in the Betfred Championship, gave Rhinos a huge fright in the first half, going in at the break all-square.
Sinfield said: “It was what we expected, especially in the first half. Credit to Halifax, I thought they threw a whole lot of good things at us.
“Richard Marshall [Halifax’s coach] has done a fantastic job with his team and at 6-6 I thought they were well worth it. There was probably a bit of disappointment from myself and Jimmy [Lowes, Rhinos’ first team coach].
“We felt we were in control after 15 minutes and invited Halifax in and they started to play and played some decent rugby. Thankfully, the second half was a little bit different.”
Hooker Brad Dwyer scored Leeds’ first two tries in the second half after coming off the bench.
“We raised the intensity,” Sinfield said. “Our strength in our carries was a lot better in that second period and I thought Brad Dwyer came on ad really sparked us. He was dynamite in and around the dummy-half position.He was huge for us.
“Whether it’s him starting or Matt [Parcell] starting, the pair are beginning to work up some good combinations. We rolled it this week and Matt started. We felt he deserved it, but Brad came on and asked some questions of a tiring Halifax defence.
“They are both very, very quick and he played his part. He came on and finished the game for us.”
Rhinos were the only Super League team to win against Championship opposition in round six of the Qualifiers, after Salford Red Devils lost at London Broncos, Hull KR were beaten away to Toulouse Olympique and Widnes’ relegation was confirmed by defeat against Toronto.
“The fact we are full-time probably showed in the end and it was a big win for us,” Sinfield added. “We knew we needed to win, no matter what.
Sinfield insisted Rhinos will be going all-out on Friday, despite their already strong position.
Only a heavy defeat could condemn the champions to the million pound match, but he stressed: “It’s a game we want to win.
“We would love to finish top of the Qualifiers. We know there’s a scrap beneath us and at the minute it is in our hands. Why would we want to rely on points difference?
“Toronto are a good side and they’ll be desperate, but it’s our last game of the year at home. We’ve not been great all year and it’d be nice to send our fans away on Friday knowing we’re on the right track.”