Why Cameron Smith thinks ‘special win’ over Wigan stands Leeds Rhinos in good stead for Super League play-offs

LEEDS RHINOS’ “special” win at Wigan Warriors will stand them in good stead for the play-offs - if they can secure a top-six finish, says Cameron Smith.

Saturday, 28th August 2021, 6:00 am
Ball-playing forward Cameron Smith - here scoring recently against Hull FC - is determined to make an impact for Leeds Rhinos, whether that's starting or from the bench. Picture:: Jonathan Gawthorpe/JPIMedia.

Smith returned from a one-game Covid lay-off when Rhinos broke their DW Stadium hoodoo this week.

It was their first victory away to Wigan since 2013 and kept alive their hopes of qualifying for Betfred Super League’s post-season series.

“It was a pretty special win,” Smith, who was among Rhinos’ substitutes, said.

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Impact forward Cameron Smith reckons the 'special win' over Wigan Warriors in midweek stands Leeds Rhinos in good stead for the Super League play-offs. Picture: Bruce Rollinson/JPIMedia.

“We hadn’t won there for a long time, so it was pretty impressive considering the adversity we went through when we went down to 11 men.”

Leeds survived a spell before the break when both Zane Tetevano and Luke Briscoe were in the sin-bin and rarely looked troubled after scoring two tries in 10 minutes either side of half-time.

Smith said: “I never felt threatened, to be honest.

“They didn’t really challenge us in any specific area.

Power-packed Leeds Rhinos forward Cameron Smith in recent Super League derby action against Castleford Tigers. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe/JPIMedia.

“Especially in the middle of the field, I felt very comfortable.

“I thought we had plenty of control and we were in a comfortable position.”

Defeat would have left Rhinos facing an uphill battle to qualify for the top-six, but Smith insisted: “Regardless of the league position, that puts us in good stead for when we get to the play-offs.

“We’ve shown we can stay in the long game and the arm wrestle.”

Rhinos have won away to Wigan, Warrington Wolves and Hull since the start of July and Smith is convinced they can make an impact on the play-offs, if they get that far.

“We just need to get in there,” he added. “When we do, the belief is there.

“We will take it week by week, starting with Wakefield on Monday.”

It is another short turnaround, but that is a familiar situation for Rhinos and they have coped well with previous fixture congestion this year.

Smith stressed: “It is good we have got plenty of bodies back.

“Obviously we are still missing a few key players, but I think we have enough consistency and personnel in the team to go on and win a couple more games.”

Smith also reckons the spirit Rhinos showed against Wigan can give them confidence for the rest of this year.

“That’s what makes the win so special,” he added.

“Maybe six months ago, or last year, if we went down to 11 men we’d be in a bit of trouble, but we have really worked on our spirit and resilience as a team, to keep teams out.”

Smith has been one of Rhinos’ most consistent performers since returning from a long lay-off with a hamstring injury.

He said: “I am always happy to be in the team.

“I just had a little bit of an issue with Covid last week but, when you miss a game, it is a bit of a shock going into the next one. I am glad to be in the team and really pleased with the team.”

Of his job as an impact substitute, Smith went on: “I am enjoying my role.

“Obviously the aim is to start long term and play as many minutes as possible but, at the moment, I am enjoying coming off the bench and making an impact and doing what I can.

“If the game’s not going our way, I give it my best shot to spin it on its head.”