LEEDS RHINOS were completely rudderless in their Challenge Cup loss to Bradford; there is currently something badly missing in that team.
It was a shock defeat, but Bulls were fully deserving of the win at Odsal – more than anything they showed more appetite and desire for it all.
But all the frailties that Leeds have shown over the course of the season, and which led to Dave Furner’s surprise sacking last Tuesday, came out yet again in Saturday’s 80 minutes.
Admittedly, I suppose Leeds losing their head coach meant it was not a great week to prepare for such an important game, one that had already been built up due to it being the first meeting of the old rivals for such a long time. But everyone at Rhinos – fans, coaches, staff and players themselves – would have expected a reaction and a reaction of a positive sort.
Instead it was a real rudderless performance. I found myself agreeing with everything Jamie Peacock was saying in his punditry for the BBC.
I thought he hit the nail on the head; there’s players out there that are looking at each other for leadership when they need to be looking at themselves.
When you talk about that period when Leeds were so successful there are a few things that stand out. Whenever anyone asks me what it was that made it such a successful team I always thought the main reason was because the players really cared.
They really cared about winning, but took losing really personally, took the standard of their own performance really personally and the accountability of their team-mates really personally as well.
That in itself brought the best out of you; when you were sitting across from JP, Kevin Sinfield, Danny McGuire and Rob Burrow, you knew there was a level of expectancy on you to perform. And not on anyone else. On you.
It was your duty to perform well. It was your role in that team. I just think that is missing from Leeds at the minute, that accountability. Some people subconsciously seem to be looking at others to get them out of the hole they are in.
Rather than looking at themselves and hoping they can be the one to make a difference and inspire others they’re waiting to be inspired by someone else.
Kev has said this is not a four (wins) from 14 (games) squad so he expects the squad that they have now is better than what the position in the table says and I’d agree with him. Yet that side of the game – names on shirts, ability, talent – is a very small part of what makes a good rugby team and a good rugby player.
You need that little bit of emotion, mental edge and right attitude, a desire to want to do well, and I think Leeds are lacking that.
But what a massive boost for Bradford and the sport as well. People want Bulls back in Super League. There was a crowd of more than 10,000 and there will have been some fans who may not have been to a Bradford game for a while. Hopefully that will have inspired them to go back.
Bulls were superb and with getting another home draw against a fellow Championship side Halifax in the quarters, they’ll be looking to get into the semi-finals now.