Leeds coach Brian McDermott believes his injury-hit side have the “opportunity to do something special” at Wigan on Friday night: a game he insists they can win.
The Rhinos are without 13 first-team players for the trip to the DW Stadium tonight, with the likes of captain Danny McGuire, England internationals Kallum Watkins and Ryan Hall, and forwards Adam Cuthbertson and Stevie Ward all missing.
McDermott will hand debuts to two Academy players, but he insists the challenge is one his squad are prepared for.
He said of the situation: “It’s a case of needs must; it’s a weird one really because we’re missing a hell of a lot of people ahead of going to a tough place like Wigan, but it’s pretty exciting.
“I think there’s a real opportunity to do something special. We’ve got a group of young men who know the size of the task in front of them but they’re not daunted by it, they’re excited by it. They’re right up for this.”
And McDermott also believes that, with second-place already sewn up ahead of the Super 8s, there is no reason Leeds cannot stun Wigan and win the game on Friday.
When asked if it was possible for Leeds to win, he said: “Yes. Of course it is. We’ll have to be good and if I’m going to be realistic, Wigan will have to be off a little bit, but of course. That’s the beauty of sport.
“It’s one of those moments where you take the pressure away from them and go out and have a crack. Try and play within the systems we’ve given you, but go and play rugby league.”
And the Leeds coach also promised his young side will deliver a performance for the Rhinos fans to be proud of.
He said: “If you’re going to be realistic about it, we’re going to go to Wigan and show we care about each other and we’re right up for it.
“The sub-text of most pre-match press conferences I do is that there’s a transition from the golden generation to the new breed of players, and what do I expect from them? I expect they’ll go over there and be proud to represent Leeds.”