Leeds coach Brian McDermott admits his team will have to reverse their form to beat league leaders St Helens on Friday – but insists they can topple Justin Holbrook’s side if they perform to their potential.
The reigning champions are being slowly dragged into a battle to avoid the Qualifiers for the second time in three years; they could be only two points above the bottom four should results go against them tonight.
However, McDermott insists if the Rhinos sharpen up the necessary areas of their game, they can spring a surprise against the Saints this weekend.
He said: “When we lost to Huddersfield (last week) we brought them in on Saturday and it’s a gradual process where you build through the week – and we genuinely believe we’re going to beat Saints. We also know it will be a tough task, and if we do beat them we’ll have to come up with something special – but we know we can beat them.
“They’re pretty potent all over the field but attacking your line in particular, they normally come up with something. I don’t think anything needs to be special or fantastic, but a lot of the facets of our game need to fall into place.
“Bizarrely, a lot of what we’re doing is okay – there’s some stuff that isn’t right, I know that. But we’re up for a challenge against Saints and we’re looking forward to it. We get to a stage every week where we know we can beat the opposition.
“You don’t look at Saints and go, ‘wow, they’re above everyone else’. But it’s hard to find an error in them and a poor moment in what they’re doing. Then, throw in a splash of brilliance with a (James) Roby and Ben Barba, then you’ve got a team who are genuine contenders.”
Leeds’ season has been plagued by injury setbacks aplenty – and that trend has continued this week: to such an extent where McDermott insists they will not know their actual side until incredibly close to kick-off.
“We’ve had our final team run and there are still some doubts over players,” he said.
“This is the crazy situation we find ourselves in, where we can’t confirm a team until 90 minutes before kick-off. Ash Golding will have a late fitness check on an ankle he’s rolled during the week, and Jordan Lilley, we’ll find out if he’s fit 90 minutes before the game. There’s a group who are training well and know what they’re doing, but we can’t confirm the full 17 until Friday night.
“We’re having a tough run, both with injuries and some confidence. I thought our game against Huddersfield was incredibly frustrating but at the same time, really courageous. I’ve been involved with a team in a similar situation before with lots of bodies missing but we showed some steel, so it’s a tough situation but we’ve got to hold our nerve, and it will come good.”