Whitehead set for challenge of Headingley

Elliott Whitehead.

Elliott Whitehead.

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FOR all Headingley has been a barren hunting ground for Catalan Dragons, it holds no fear for their Dream Team second-row Elliott Whitehead.

The French team have lost all 10 times they have played at Leeds Rhinos, an ominous statistic ahead of this evening’s elimination play-off there.

But Whitehead says his side will draw upon their agonising last visit there to remind themselves that the famous stadium can be breached.

Catalan were actually in front after the hooter in June’s Super League meeting, only for a farcical error to gift Liam Sutcliffe the chance to kick Leeds to victory with a penalty on the very last play.

“That’s the closest we’ve come,”said Whitehead, who earned his spot in the Dream Team after scoring 18 tries this term, more than any other forward in the competition.

“We had it, but we gave the game away. Hopefully we can repeat that performance and learn from our mistakes in that game to get through.

“We will take a lot of confidence out of beating Castleford last weekend but we are going to have to play our best game of the season to beat Leeds at Leeds.”

Whitehead, 25, has proved a revelation in Perpignan since moving over there mid-season last year from Bradford Bulls – only the second Englishman (after fellow Bradfordian Leon Pryce) to do so.

Now he is in England coach Steve McNamara’s thoughts and admitted: “I wanted to improve, but I didn’t think I would improve as much as I have done (in 2014).

“I’ve learned a lot from Louis Anderson and Zeb Taia and it’s been a good move overall.

“At Bradford, except for Steve Menzies, I had no one in my position to learn from.

“I was one of a load of young back-rows including Tom Olbison, James Donaldson, Danny Addy and John Bateman.

“But I knew about Zeb and Louis at Catalan and they have helped my game a lot while the lifestyle is just great.”

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