IF THERE is one positive from Leeds Rhinos’ wretched run this season, it is the exposure some of their younger players have gained to extra first-team action.
Josh Walters may have scored the try that levelled the Grand Final against Wigan Warriors last October, setting up Kevin Sinfield’s match and treble-winning conversion, but the second-row was still comparatively raw when this new campaign began.
Nevertheless, with the defending champions – bottom of Super League ahead of tonight’s trip to Warrington Wolves – often overrun by injuries, it has meant he has gained plenty of game time this time around.
Walters has made 11 appearances so far while the likes of Ashton Golding, Ash Handley, and Jordan Lilley, plus debutants Cameron Smith and Sam Hallas, have all had a chance, too.
“It is tough,” admitted Walters, when asked about the current situation at Headingley. “But I am enjoying my rugby. Obviously it would be nice to be winning, but you learn a lot of things and to be honest, I think I have learned more this year than I did last.
“I have played more games than I did last year as well.
“We have got to keep working hard away from the pitch and eventually results will show on it – we know what we have got to do.”
Another defeat at Warrington this evening would mark six consecutive losses in all competitions, their poorest run in the summer era.
They are almost certainly going to finish in the Qualifiers given they are six points behind Hull FC – who also have a better points difference – with only eight regular rounds remaining.
Admittedly, Wolves have lost their last two games but, such is their previous form, they will reclaim top spot if they inflict Leeds’s 15th defeat of a woeful year.
Walters said: “We have been doing what we have to do on the training pitch and reviewed what Warrington do. I’m not sure what’s mathematically possible (position), but we know we’re not dead and buried. But first and foremost is getting a win, getting two points and then going again.
“With the injuries we’ve got, sometimes we aren’t getting told the team until the day of the game, so it is tough.
“But each game as it comes is all we are looking at.”