St Helens skipper Wilkin won’t be drawn into Leeds hype

St Helens captain Jon Wilkin believes that the hype surrounding Leeds this season has meant that their quality has been somewhat overstated.

While Wilkin admires how the Rhinos have gone about their business in 2015, he also feels that they have been talked up, possibly because of the emotion surrounding the departure at the end of the year of some iconic players.

Wilkin made his return from injury last Friday in the 32-18 win over Leeds at Headingley, and he believes that Saints showed their qualities too.

“I think there’s a big emotional story behind Leeds this year,” he said.

“With Kevin Sinfield and Jamie Peacock stepping down, there’s a lot of things being written about them, that it’s their year and that they’re the team to win [everything].

“But it’s not really our concern. I always felt that people were talking Leeds up beyond where they’re at, and talking us down below the point where we’re at.

“Leeds are a great side, and we have respect for them, but they’re not unbeatable.

“We’re certainly not a bad side, we’ve just been playing poorly.

“So you’ve got to be cautious when you hear polarised opinions of teams. I don’t ever think things are as a good or as bad as you say in sport.

“We had a load of respect for Leeds and we still do, but we knew we were a better side than we had been showing.

“I felt that came through at the weekend.”

As for his own display, Wilkin was pleased to get back into action and shake some rust from the limbs and mind.

“It was a good game,” he said.

“I felt a bit scratchy and rusty, but it was good to come back into the team.

“Having watched the side, I felt I could do a couple of things which might influence the team in a positive way, and I felt I did some of those bits right.

“It was just more the basics of the game that I was a bit scratchy at.

“But it was a great win for us, a real confidence changing win.

“We’ve been in the doldrums with confidence recently, so to win in the manner we did against the champions and Cup final winners from the week before was great.”

The Saints captain is also anticipating further improvement from Saints as the semi-final play-offs draw ever nearer.

“I think we can play better than that,” he said.

“I think we’ve not played as well as we did during the first six weeks of the season.

“The last few months has been a real fluctuating period for us.

“For me, as captain, I want the club to get back to consistent winning performances.

“The weekend’s game against Leeds did set some standards for us.

“We got huge improvement in a number of areas, but I felt that the effort and intent was at a standard that we’ve set now.

“The effort and intent from the boys was great.”

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