Leeds never doubted themselves after Castleford thumping, says Cuthbertson

It was, for Castleford and Leeds fans, a night nobody will forget for varying reasons.

As the Tigers celebrated with their fans following the 66-10 hammering of their bitter West Yorkshire rivals, the celebrations were not too different to that of a Grand Final, even given how the game was only taking place in early March.

The prospect of the two meeting at Old Trafford come this Saturday was, to most of us at least, almost unthinkable.

But there was one group of men who never doubted they had what it took to reach the Grand Final for the record-extending tenth occasion: the Leeds players themselves, says prop Adam Cuthbertson.

“There was absolutely no self-doubt after that Cas game,” he insists.

“We just knew we got it really wrong on the night, and that can happen to anyone. We saw it happen in the NRL with Melbourne and Canberra, but nobody really talked about it the way we got spoken about.

“Sometimes you get it wrong – it’s about how you bounce back from it. I really believe that now after playing in that game and now being where you are. It’s about being honest with yourselves and working hard and we’ve done that.”

Just 12 months on from their well-documented annus horribilis, the Leeds players who toiled and battled their way through the Qualifiers in 2016 find themselves in the season-defining showpiece once again.

At times this year – not least against Castleford in March – it looked unthinkable that Brian McDermott’s side would come this far. But, according to the ultra-likeable Cuthbertson, it has been achieved with plenty of hard work.

“We could have sat around and patted each other on the backs come the Qualifiers part of the year, say we’d been unlucky and blamed everything under the sun.

“It wasn’t about that – it was about being honest with each other and what we could have done better as a team and as individuals. We had to come back in pre-season and really work on that, and this year the squad has made a Grand Final. We spoke about it in pre-season, and we’ve managed to go out and practice that and now it’s come true.”

And, like so many of his Rhinos team-mates who struggled last year, Cuthbertson concedes walking out at Old Trafford this Saturday will be extra special given the rigours of 2016.

He said: “When I first came over in 2015 it seemed like everything just fell into place. We worked hard and it wasn’t easy, but we won a lot quickly. After going through 2016 and struggling to fight the whole season just to stay in Super League and wrap that up, it’s just going to make this year all that much better and more worthwhile.”