Leeds director of rugby Kevin Sinfield believes his squad has lost the values of what it requires to play for the reigning Super League champions as they prepare for a clash which could define their season tonight.
Defeat to Wakefield would all-but ensure Qualifiers rugby for the Rhinos for the second time in three seasons – and guarantee Trinity’s position inside the top eight, too.
And Sinfield, who watched his side be comprehensively beaten at Castleford last week, has pulled no punches in his assessment of what he has seen since his unveiling eight days ago.
He said: “There’s a couple of personnel changes I’d like to make, but having looked at it in depth I think we’ve lost some direction.
“We’ve probably lost the values of what it takes to be a Leeds Rhinos player. The spirit of being a Leeds Rhinos player, the things our players and our staff need to live by, we’ve lost some of that.
“I knew it straight away when I walked in. I could see it and smell it. You’ve got to be a special kind of person to work here.
“The jersey weighs more than any other and it takes a real character to do it justice and do themselves justice while they’re here.”
And Sinfield admits his primary focus this week has been ensuring those values are restored ahead of a massive West Yorkshire derby for both teams – where the loser becomes the red-hot favourite to join Hull KR, Widnes and Salford in this summer’s Qualifiers: widely assumed to be the toughest yet given the strength of the Championship.
“We’ve lost some of that and we need to get it back,” he said.
“That’s something I’ve worked particularly hard on this week. We are ninth for a reason, but we need to bring that belief back and we need a performance against Wakefield.
“They’ve a big, physical team and on their day can beat anybody in the comp’. They like coming to Leeds, but we’re looking forward to this and have belief in our 17.”