'You have to find a way': Mikolaj Oledzki reveals Leeds Rhinos mindset for tough Catalans trip
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That’s the view of prop Mikolaj Oledzki as Rhinos prepare for two matches which will define their season.
Salford Red Devils and Castleford Tigers - who meet at the Jungle on Monday - are a point behind so a Leeds win would secure a top-six finish.
If they lose, Rhinos will drop to sixth and almost certainly need to beat Castleford at Headingley on Saturday to qualify for the play-offs.
A try by Blake Austin less than three minutes from time extended Rhinos’ winning run to six games against Huddersfield Giants last Wednesday, after Leeds had gone behind in the 72nd minute.
That was the latest in a series of tight matches and Oledzki insisted: “These close games aren’t pretty, but I feel at the end of the year we are going to benefit a lot from them.”
He said: “When you get to the play-offs, there’s no pretty games.
“You just have to find a way to win against tough teams, so you can see it [Rhinos’ run-in] as a bit of a practice before the play-offs and the big games.”
The 18-14 defeat of Huddersfield means champions and league leaders St Helens are the only Super League team Leeds haven’t beaten this year.
Oledzki added: “We will take a lot of confidence out of [last Wednesday].
“We know we weren’t firing on all cylinders, we were a bit scratchy in certain parts, but we found a way to win and we’ll be better for it.
“They are a very tough team to play.
“It was a big game for them because they were chasing second and a big game for us because we want to guarantee top-six and maybe start looking at the top-four.
“But we’re not going to start getting ahead of ourselves, we are talking it one game at a time at the moment.”
With their attack not at its best, Rhinos have been put under huge pressure defensively in recent weeks, but Oledzki reckons the way they have protected their line is a good sign for the must-win matches to come.
He said: “Defensively, we have been very calm.
“I know people might say we concede this amount of metres or we haven’t got line speed every tackle, but when we have that control in D and everyone knows what they are doing and knows the system, we have have enough strike to get ourselves up the field if we do end up conceding a few metres.
“The D has been really good, we scramble well and I feel like we don’t panic.
“We don’t rush into decisions and when we do concede a quick ruck I think we are really good at getting it back on track.”
The number of points Rhinos have scored has declined every game during their winning run and Oledzki accepts that’s an area they need to improve, after making huge strides at the start of coach Rohan Smith’s reign.
Under Smith, Leeds have gone from Super League’s lowest scorers to the fifth highest, but Oledzki said the onus is on players in the middle of the field to be more direct.
“Sometimes, as middles we get a bit happy with passing,” he stated.
“That’s a work in progress and I am sure we’ll be improving on that.”
Though Rhinos are without both their first-choice half-backs through injury for Monday’s game, Oledzki is confident their squad can cope.
He noted: “We’ve been rotating the team a bit, the last couple of weeks.
“Lads have been coming in and going out, but I feel like whoever has come in has done a great job.
“I think at the moment, we are in a really good position where we’ve got fit players playing and fit players training for a spot too.
“There’s a lot of healthy competition and that’s a good situation to be in at this part of the season.”