One of sport’s most frequent cliches is ‘a game of two halves’. But in Mitch Garbutt’s case, that saying effectively describes his maiden year at Leeds.
The Australian forward recently celebrated his first 12 months as a Leeds player having joined the club midway through the 2015 season. His instant success at the Rhinos was unprecedented, winning three trophies in his first 14 appearances for the club as the Rhinos won the treble.
However, his first full season at the club has been far different. An awful start to the year saw the Rhinos slumped at the bottom of the table, while Garbutt was sent off in the World Club Challenge against North Queensland for punching James Tamou.
It goes without saying that nobody predicted Leeds’ early season downfall, however they appear to have turned a corner in recent weeks, winning four of their five matches as they build for the Qualifiers.
But despite the club’s shortcomings in 2016, Garbutt insists that he has loved every minute of his time at Headingley.
“Obviously, the first six months were really good, while the last six have been a bit tougher, but I wouldn’t trade anything to be honest with you,” he told TotalRL.
“It’s been a rough year, but we’ve all gelled together really well and we’ve seen some young players really step up. It has been a tough year but it has been a great year for some players that have been able to show what they can do.”
Their contest with Hull KR could be seen as a dead rubber, with both teams condemned to a place in the Qualifiers. However, with an additional home game to up for grabs after the split, Garbutt insists it is an important game for the club.
“We’re treating the game the same as any other.
“We know going to Hull KR is a big challenge for us and once we’re through that we prepare for the Qualifiers, we’re just taking it a week at a time. We’ve got quite a good leadership group that is quite focused. Every week we have things we want to do and try to achieve them.
“There’s a completely different feel amongst the boys at the moment. We’re playing well, but we still need to improve and there are some big challenges ahead. We know we’re going to be coming up against some fired up teams in the Championship, so we know this time we have now is important to us.”