Eastwood: Big game has distracted us

Leeds back-rower Greg Eastwood has admitted the World Club Challenge may have distracted the Rhinos from their Super League campaign.

After an opening day victory over Crusaders, Leeds lost back to back games against Castleford and Wakefield, before returning to winning ways with an unconvincing 22-10 win over Salford on Friday.

But, according to Australian magazine Rugby League Week, the £50,000 winners’ purse has been offered in full to the Leeds squad, should they manage to defeat Melbourne in the big game on Sunday at Elland Road.

Kiwi international Eastwood said: “Gary (Hetherington) had a chat to the boys and went through the bonuses, about what the club would give us. It’s good money – but we’ve got to win first. He said they would give all the prize money to the players.

“Brian McClennan, all he’s been talking about since I got here is Melbourne and what we’re going to do against them.

“That’s good in a way but on the other hand, maybe it’s possible to focus too much on Melbourne and let our guard down and we have lost against Wakefield and Castleford.”

Melbourne come to England looking to avenge their defeat in the 2008 edition, while Leeds will be looking to bounce back from last year’s defeat against Manly and equal the record of being World Club champions three times.

Leeds prop Jamie Peacock is set to make a record fifth WCC appearance, having appeared twice for both Leeds (2008 won, 2009 lost) and Bradford Bulls (2002 won, 2004 won). He will beat the record of four by Shaun Edwards (Wigan 1987 won, 1991 won, 1992 lost, 1994 won); Sean Long and Paul Sculthorpe (St. Helens 2000 lost, 2001 won, 2003 lost, 2007 won). Peacock is also aiming for a record fourth win.

Melbourne qualified for this year’s World Club Challenge by beating Parramatta 23-16 in the NRL Grand Final last October. They will be looking for their second triumph, having beaten St Helens 44-6 in 2000.

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