Leeds Rhinos have ‘found their mojo’ as rival coach labels them ‘most athletic side in Super League’

Drew Darbyshire
Sam Walters Leeds Rhinos Alamy

Sam Walters - Alamy

Leeds Rhinos have found their mojo in recent weeks and are the most athletic side in the Super League competition.

That’s the view of Salford Red Devils coach Paul Rowley, who has paid a glowing tribute to Rohan Smith’s side ahead of Sunday’s game at the Salford Stadium.

The Rhinos head into the weekend having recorded impressive wins over Huddersfield and Warrington over the last fortnight.

“I’d probably say Leeds are the most athletic side in Super League and they’ve seemed to have found their mojo in the last few weeks,” Rowley said.

“They’ve played a lot more direct, they are a very fast team across the park so it’s going to be an almighty challenge.

“They are in tremendous form at the minute so I think they are a good team to watch, I enjoy watching Leeds personally, I enjoy how they play the game and it’s an almighty challenge.”

Leeds Rhinos danger areas highlighted by Salford Red Devils boss

There isn’t much separating the sides ahead of Sunday’s Round 18 clash, with sixth-placed Salford sitting four points above Leeds in the league table.

Rowley says he is a keen admirer of the Rhinos, and knows his Red Devils need to be at their best come Sunday afternoon.

He added: “Their outside backs all ran for 150 metres last week so that tells you straight away, people like Ash Handley and Nene Macdonald, a lot comes on the back of their quick rucks, big physical presences and fast so they create momentum once they take the ball in then everyone steps up on the back of it.

“And then you’ve got (Cameron) Smith and (Mikolaj) Oledzki making strong carries and getting them into good ball areas.

“The back field is the platform for everything good that Leeds do but they’re a good team and really athletic.

“If you were going to pick stereotype rugby players, they are the team and players you’d pick – they are a big athletes and play in the right way. I do enjoy watching Leeds play.”

Paul Rowley: We are the underdogs

The Rhinos will be without star half-back Blake Austin for their trip to Salford, with the Australian receiving a one-match ban for Grade C dangerous contact in last week’s win at Warrington.

Rowley added: “Leeds are a good team, they’ve got a healthy squad so I think Blake Austin is the only one missing.

“It’s Super League, everybody is tough, it’s so unpredictable but you’d expect your big clubs to play big and consistent. Leeds weren’t at the beginning of the year but now they are so I understand the challenge and who we are playing.

“We know a big club is coming into town and a big club that ultimately finished in last year’s Grand Final, so the run has begun for them, their form has hit, they’ve got the personnel to back it up so we are back to a familiar spot in being the underdog. We accept the challenge and will put our best foot forward.”

The Red Devils take on the Rhinos at the Salford Stadium on Sunday afternoon, 3pm kick-off.

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