Leeds director of rugby, Kevin Sinfield admits he is trying to get his players to simply enjoy playing again, although he wants them to show how much they care too, about their current predicament over the season-defining period which begins with tonight’s game against Widnes.
Defeat for the reigning Super League champions tonight would consign them to a spell in the Qualifiers later this summer; not even wins in their final two games may be enough to avoid that particular fate.
But with a Challenge Cup semi-final against Warrington also looming, Sinfield admits it is a vital period for the Rhinos.
“The next three weeks are really important for us,” he said. “This week certainly. And Widnes are pretty desperate as well. But we need to show we care about each other, care about the club and our supporters.
“We also need to show we care about being ninth and about not being good enough at this moment in time. We’re in a juicy part of the season, and these next couple of weeks are important to determine what we end up with at the end of the year. We’ll do everything possible, and re-evaluate things after that semi-final.”
Sinfield admits that hard work is the tonic, if a run of nine league games without a win is to end for Leeds, but he admits it is equally important that his players simply rediscover their love of playing, following what has been a testing time for the Rhinos.
“As you’d expect,” he went on, “every department is going above and beyond right now and we need to. We need to work hard, the players especially.
“I think we’ve got to realise that they have gone through a fair bit recently, so we’re trying to freshen them up and get them to enjoy the game again – almost remember what it was like as a 10-year-old, running around in a park somewhere – get that enthusiasm back.
“The minute we get a win, it cements all the things we’re putting in place behind the scenes.”
Prop Dom Crosby is set to make his debut tonight, having joined on loan from Warrington in the week.