TONIGHT’S Super League encounter with Huddersfield Giants has been described as a “must-win game” by Leeds Rhinos’ England forward Brett Ferres.
Salford Red Devils’ six-point deduction, for past breaches of Super League’s salary cap, lifted Leeds one place to 10th in the table.
But they are only two points clear of bottom club Huddersfield and defeat this evening, plus a win for Salford at home to Hull KR tomorrow, would see the defending champions plunge to the foot of the ladder.
“If you look at the league table, it doesn’t look too pretty for us at the minute,” conceded Ferres, who is hoping to return against his former club after a five-game layoff due to a calf muscle tear.
“We need to start knocking some wins off and it’s really important this week we do that.
“We say every week we need to win, but this is a must-win for us.”
Rhinos, who return to Huddersfield next Friday for a Challenge Cup sixth round tie, have shown signs of improvement in their last two matches, a 20-18 victory over Hull and 38-34 loss at St Helens.
“These last few weeks we’ve been performing a lot better and, hopefully, we can continue that and get a decent win,” added Ferres.
“I think we should have won at Saints last Friday. If you score 34 points you should win, so it was disappointing we couldn’t back it up with defence, but there were a lot of pleasing signs.
“The likes of Wigan and Warrington are jagging those close wins and we are struggling to do that.
“It’s really important for us to kick on and we need to grind them out and get a result.”
Ferres left Huddersfield under a cloud last December, following allegations about his behaviour away from rugby. He admitted he is expecting a hostile reception, but insisted: “It is what it is, I’m not too worried about the reaction. I’ll go out and play my best for Leeds Rhinos and that’s all it is for me at the end of the day.”
Academy forward Cameron Smith and Luke Briscoe, who was at Hunslet last year, could be drafted in for Rhinos tonight, with Carl Ablett, Beau Falloon, Zak Hardaker and Brett Delaney having joined the injury list.