AFTER two false starts, Leeds Rhinos are desperate to get their season up and running this evening.
The first false start was an underwhelming 30-4 loss to Hull FC when, essentially, Richard Agar’s side got doused in the rain in more ways than one at Emerald Headingley.
The second? That was a little more unusual; Sunday’s fixture at Huddersfield Giants postponed on the morning of the game due to Storm Ciara.
Ahead of tonight’s home match with Hull KR, Rhinos hooker Brad Dwyer told The Yorkshire Post: “It was a strange one.
“We were doing everything for the game, building up in the week towards the Sunday and so then to not be able to play was pretty frustrating.
“But it’s one of those things that is out of our control and you just have to deal with it.
“I’ve had a few games where there’s been snow but can’t remember a game being called off like that (for a storm) before.
“Having said that, my memory’s terrible so there may have been one…”
He does clearly remember, though, playing under Rovers coach Tony Smith at his former club, Warrington Wolves.
That is one reason why he knows tonight’s opponents will be challenging. The other is that the relegation favourites have already beaten Wakefield Trinity and – unlike Leeds – ran Hull close last week.
“Tony will get KR playing a certain way,” said Dwyer, who made 89 appearances under the former Leeds and England chief for Wolves from 20012 to 2017.
“He’ll be influencing them on how he wants them to play, showing them video and he’s very much into the team game; he’s a good manager of a group.
“I played under him for a while and he’s a great coach; you can’t underestimate them.
“They’ve had a tough off-season and pre-season with injuries but that seems to have driven them on and they’ve had a couple of good performances.
“They’re in good shape. But it’s about us at the moment; that performance against Hull wasn’t good enough and we have to right that this week.”
On the back of three relegation fights in the last four years, Leeds realise they will need to get a win as soon as possible to make sure outside pressure does not see talk of another year of turmoil creeping in.
Granted, given the key changes made by Agar in the off-season – notably Luke Gale coming in at scrum-half and England Knights hooker Kruise Leeming joining from Huddersfield Giants – they will need time to gel.
Matters have not been helped by Leeming suffering an injury in training and he will not be available just yet.
“The pre-season meant we were all in a positive position and the results were all good, shaping up nicely,” explained Dwyer.
“It was pleasing. So we were all disappointed with how we went as a group in Round One and we wanted to right some wrongs.
“We were pretty confident we could do that against Huddersfield so it was disappointing not to get out there but now that rolls on to Hull KR this Friday.
“We’ve had another week’s prep and we’re excited to get out there.”
With Leeming sidelined, the dynamic 26-year-old is Leeds’s main hooker for the foreseeable future with former England scrum-half Richie Myler offering support if needed.
“I’m looking forward to getting Kruise back; he’s a great player and the competition between us will be great,” said Dwyer.
“That’s what you want and whatever my role with Kruise is in the squad, hopefully we can push each other on.
“I’m probably disappointed with my performance against Hull; there’s stuff to work on and I just want to get out there against Rovers now.”
He could be up against a familiar face, too, in the shape of Matt Parcell, the Australian hooker who won the 2017 Grand Final with Leeds but was allowed to leave for Rovers on loan last June and has since signed permanently.
Typically, Parcell starred when the Robins won 32-16 at Headingley last July, although he suffered a shoulder injury which eventually required off-season shoulder surgery, seeing him miss the opening two rounds in 2020.
Parcell is named in Rovers’ 21-man squad and Smith has given him as long as possible to prove his fitness for tonight’s game.
Leeds know first-hand what the slippery Queenslander can add to his side’s attacking quality but Dwyer insisted: “We’re thinking about us.
“Matt’s a great player, very offensive and lightning quick.
“We have to control the ruck but not necessarily him; if the ruck’s quick, it suits his running game so we’ll have to sort that.
“If we focus on our game, though, that won’t be an issue.”
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