THE CUP will not distract Leeds Rhinos from their relegation battle, according to pack leader Brad Singleton.
Rhinos face Warrington Wolves in a Ladbrokes Challenge Cup semi-final at the newly-renamed University of Bolton Stadium tomorrow and begin their Super-8s Qualifiers campaign at home to Toulouse Olympique in seven days’ time.
Rhinos’ league form slumped after their Wembley appearances in both 2014 and 2015 and a repeat this year would put their top-flight status in doubt, but Singleton insisted they are relishing tomorrow’s showdown and desperate to reach another final.
“I am looking forward to it and I think the team is,” said the front-rower who is a member of Leeds’ new leadership group.
“The state we’re in in the league, there’s not going to be any other opportunities to win something this year.
“We’ve missed out on the top-eight so this is a big game and this club loves big games.
“Hopefully we can get back to Wembley again. The calibre of this team shouldn’t see, can’t see it as a distraction.
“If we can’t handle facing Warrington, who are also in Super League, we don’t deserve to be there.
“To me it’s a perfect opportunity to get a good performance this week and then we’ve got seven more tough games to come in the eights.”
Rhinos won at HJ Stadium in round one of Betfred Super League, but Warrington reversed that with victory at Headingley three months ago.
“They have always been there or thereabouts since I’ve been playing,” Singleton said of tomorrow’s foes.
“They have been our bogey team for a long time.
“I rate how they play, they are always fit, they’ve always got aggressive forwards and their backs can get them going forward.
“We know it’ll be a big job to get the win.”
Leeds suffered an embarrassing 38-22 defeat at Salford Red Devils in their final regular season game a eight days ago and Singleton knows it will be a long afternoon if they play like that tomorrow.
“It was really disappointing,” he conceded.
“I thought we were past those sort of awful games.
“It hurt and that’s okay because you can’t just wash your hands of it, you have to let it hurt you to improve.
“It might be a reminder that we’re not where we want to be.
“If we had put 30 points into them I don’t know how many cracks it might have covered going into the Warrington game.
“Hopefully if we win against Warrington we might say we needed that.
“It’s still not good to receive a beating like that, it was heavily disappointing, but we have to look forward.”
League form will ensure Warrington go into tomorrow’s sell-out double-header as favourites, but Singleton stated: “I don’t read too much into it.
“It’s just the week leading into it and the attitude on the day that’s important.
“The bookies are usually there or thereabouts, but it’s a Cup semi-final so it’s either-or.
“You’ve done a lot to get there so it’s 50-50, whether you are playing a weak opposition or a very strong opposition.
“You’ve just got to nail that week and mentally you’ve got to turn up.
“I was very disappointed last year when we lost to Hull in the semi-final.
“I remember it vividly.
“That was probably one of the biggest losses of my career and it hurt.
“Hopefully it won’t be another one of those days and we get it right.”