Leeds Rhinos boss Rohan Smith stuck with the old cliché of every game being a ‘must-win’ ahead of Sunday’s clash with Warrington Wolves, but admitted his side are now in the business of chasing wins to ‘try and keep the dream alive’.
On the back of a year in 2022 which saw them go all the way to the Grand Final, a lacklustre campaign to date has left the Rhinos 9th on the ladder and four points outside the play-off spots with just six games remaining.
Smith’s side have lost their last three, including a disappointing 13-6 home defeat to Leigh Leopards last time out which saw the Headingley crowd voice their discontent at the full time hooter with very audible boos in front of the Sky Sports cameras.
This weekend’s meeting with the Wolves – who themselves have lost the last seven in all competitions – is live on OurLeague, and provides the final game of Round 22 in Super League. If things don’t go to plan, the hosts could find themselves chasing shadows come Sunday evening.
Rohan Smith on Leeds Rhinos ‘trying to keep the dream alive’
Sympathising with the supporters’ frustrations, and re-assuring them that the team aren’t prepared to give up on the ‘dream’ just yet, Smith said: “We’d all pictured and envisaged having at least a few more wins under our belts at this moment in time, so it’s understandable that people might be a bit frustrated or agitated.
“We’re very focused on chasing it, we’ve still got plenty of running in our legs, and we’re going to have a crack on it on Sunday, take a step forward, and try to keep the dream alive.
“A bunch of wins are going to be needed. I’d imagine, generally, that if you end up with more wins than losses then you’ll probably make the play-offs. That’s the gage to aim for, but it’s just got to start with one on Sunday, there’s no two ways about that.
“There’s no time like the present, and we know that we’re going to have to rely on some things going our way, but with six games left I still think if we can put in good performances and pick up results, the rest will take care of itself. It has to get started on Sunday.
“I treat every game like a ‘must-win game, and I encourage the players to do the same. Of course when the season, or the scoreboard pressure adds to it, for sure people can add a bit more importance to it. Every game is a must win for me.”
Smith: Execution in games is the key
Leeds have won just three of their last 10 in all competitions, including a Challenge Cup exit to Wigan Warriors in Round Six.
They lost that game by a four-point margin back in May, a story of their season. Since, they’ve been beaten a further six times in Super League. None of those have been by a margin of more than 10 points.
Coming close on so many occasions is something the Australian chief is using as a positive ahead of a hugely important period.
He added: “I feel all of our games barring Round One (a 42-10 defeat to Warrington), we’ve been well and truly in the game. That shows a level of consistency to a point and a level of competitiveness.
“We’re striving to find a bit more in the way of execution and to find a way to grind out some results in those close games, to be on the right end of it.
“I’d much rather be in every game and battling for it than being beaten comfortably. Of course at some stages we’ve felt we’ve earned a victory, but we haven’t executed enough for the scoreboard to say the same thing.
“We’ve tried to take lessons out of it, and everyone’s been disappointed at times with the outcomes, but the effort and intent has been there.”