UNDERDOGS LEEDS Rhinos will have to play better than they have all year to shock Castleford Tigers at Old Trafford on Saturday, stand-off Joel Moon reckons.
Rhinos have climbed from ninth on the table last term to second and a place in the Betfred Super League Grand Final.
But they finished 10 points behind Tigers and have been beaten convincingly four times by the runaway league leaders.
Moon – whose switch from centre to stand-off helped spark Rhinos’ upturn in form – said: “It has been a big year, especially after last year.
“That was a disappointing season, but this year we’ve come out with some good wins and good performances. To get the win this weekend would be awesome, but we will need to be on our best game.
“Every time we’ve played Cas, they’ve smashed us, pretty much.
Just to control them is going to take a big performance from our boys, but if we do that and we play well and we play one of our best games we should do all right.Leeds Rhinos’ Joel Moon
“This week is going to be a tough game and we know what to expect.
“They are a difficult team to play and they’ve got some great strike players.
“To stop them is going to take a big effort from us boys, but we know to win we are going to have to play the best game we’ve played all year.
“Hopefully, we can do that.”
Rhinos will need Moon and half-back partner Danny McGuire to dominate against Ben Roberts and Luke Gale – who was last night crowned Super League’s Man of Steel.
“Benny Roberts has been awesome, he is one of the best players on their team,” Moon observed.
“He’s a massive strike player and a great runner. We are going to have to control him and Luke Gale and Zak [Hardaker] at the back.
“Just to control them is going to take a big performance from our boys, but if we do that and we play well and we play one of our best games we should do all right.”
Moon - Rhinos’ player of the year - was in the centres when Leeds beat Wigan Warriors in the 2015 Grand Final.
He admitted: “I never thought this year, when I started, I was going to play six at Old Trafford.
“But I am feeling good, I am excited and I am looking forward to the week. What better way to end the season than by playing Cas, who have been the best team all year?”
Moon is Rhinos’ top try scorer this year, with 20 and reckons it has been the best season of his career.
“Playing six you get your hands on the ball more and get recognised more and I’ve scored some tries this year too,” he reflected.
“It is hard to get a good combination with players, but I’ve built up a good partnership with Magsy [McGuire] and he’s teaching me some stuff.
“Each week I am learning more and more. Getting a good half-back partnership is important for a team - Cas have got Galey and Benny Roberts and you can see how strong it is for them.”
Half-back Richie Myler will join Rhinos next term from Catalans Dragons as a replacement for Hull KR-bound McGuire.
Moon said no decision has been made on whether he will remain in the pivots in 2018.
“We’ll just get through this year, then hopefully have a talk about it with Mac [coach Brian McDermott] and see what’s best for the team,” he said.
“At the moment I am enjoying it there and it is working for the team.”