Adam Cuthbertson‘s 2016 season has not gone to plan but the forward is aiming to get back to his offloading ways to try and help spark a Rhinos revival.
Cuthbertson was arguably the best signing of 2015, a creative front-rower who helped Leeds to an amazing treble of trophies.
The Australian veteran arrived from the Newcastle Knights and took Super League by storm, leading the competition for offloads and providing the missing link in attack as the Rhinos swept all before them.
The England-eligible Sydneysider was tipped for international selection and was shortlisted for the Man of Steel award.
While Cuthbertson did not go home with the top gong last year, which was given to his Leeds teammate Zak Hardaker, he was named as the Rugby League Writers and Broadcasters Association’s Player of the Year.
This campaign has been considerably more difficult than the previous for the Rhino and his club, with Leeds propping up the bottom of the table with just three victories and already out of the Challenge Cup.
It’s a scenario no one envisaged when the Yorkshire outfit lifted the trophy at Old Trafford last October to claim their third successive piece of silverware.
Cuthbertson has missed four games this term due to a bicep injury and has struggled to make the same equally destructive impact he had on defences 12 months ago.
The prop has been a marked man with the opposition now acutely aware of his ball-playing ability.
“It’s funny, obviously teams are going to watch me,” Cuthbertson told Love Rugby League.
“I don’t think I’ve played too differently, I think we’ve obviously had some different results which changes people having a different opinion.
“As an indivicual I’m not playing too different. I’ve probably focused a bit more on my go-forward this year rather than my offload.
“It’s more of a conscious decision in myself, which I think going forward I’ve got to start bringing it into my game a bit more.”
Cuthbertson’s stats reflect a slightly changing role, with one try and one try assist so far this season. In 2015 the prop forward bagged eight tries and set up five in 29 appearances.
After more than a month out with injury, Cuthbertson made his return against Castleford on Thursday night.
The Rhinos were humbled by Cas but the front-rower finished the evening with an impressive 31 tackles, three tackle busts and 92 metres from 18 carries.
There’s no denying that the Leeds of 2016 are a different beast to the edition of 2015.
But now Cuthbertson is looking to cut the shackles and get back to basics as the Rhinos attempt to their annus horribilis around.
“Just play a bit more free-spirited football I suppose, rather than just the head-down-bum-up sort of attitude and just creating a lot more,” he mused.
“Besides that, it has been frustrating because of some of the results.
“And backing up after such a long season last year and getting the injury, I think once I get back I’ll try and get back to my old habits.”