Leeds Rhinos v Catalans Dragons: Prop Garbutt labels rearranged fixture a '˜must-win'

PROP MITCH Garbutt has labelled tonight's visit of Catalans Dragons a must-win game for Leeds Rhinos.

Leeds Rhinos prop, Mitch Garbutt. PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe

Rhinos have lost their last five Betfred Super League matches and if ninth-placed Catalans win tonight they will be only one point behind with five rounds to play.

The injury-hit defending champions are in serious danger of being dragged into the middle-eights Qualifiers – and a battle against relegation – for the second time in three seasons.

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But confidence was boosted by Leeds’ performance in last Friday’s 23-22 defeat by runaway leaders St Helens and victory in the rearranged game this evening would take some of the pressure off. Garbutt is one of the few experienced forwards left standing in Rhinos’ camp and he admitted: “We are coming into the terms of must-win at the minute.”

Cameron Smith, centre, is one of several young players starting to make their mark with Leeds Rhinos. PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe

He added: “We need to win some games and we need to string some performances together.

“Catalans beat us last time we played them and they’ll be confident they can do it again, but confidence-wise we took a lot away from the St Helens game.”

Leeds were the better team for most of the clash with Saints, but failed to turn pressure into points and Garbutt stressed they have to make a better job of taking their chances tonight.

“I thought Saints did a good job of hanging in there,” said the front-rower who was among Rhinos’ try scorers.

“I thought we should probably have scored two or three more tries with the ball we had and the opportunities we created, but it was credit to them that they were there at the end.”

Catalans have a big, physical pack and Leeds were out-muscled up front when they lost 33-20 in Perpignan 25 days ago.

Garbutt warned they can’t afford to let that happen again. He said: “It is a big test for us, but I’ve been really impressed with how Cam Smith has handled himself when he has come in and it’ll be good for the young kids to play against them – and from my end it’s going to be a big challenge for myself.”

Rhinos are still without six first-choice forwards due to injury, but the return of Garbutt, their strongest ball-carrier, has given them a lift.

He has come off the bench in the last two games, doubling his appearances for the season.

Garbutt missed the start of the campaign due to a quad injury and then damaged a knee in his second comeback match, sidelining him for three months.

“I probably owe the boys a few good games I think,” he admitted.

“I have let them down this year with being out so long.

“It’s good to be back out there, hopefully we’ll get Mik [Oledzki] back and when Nate [Nathaniel Peteru] and Singo [Brad Singleton] get back it will be more competition for places.”

He added: “I am slowly getting my legs back, so it’s good.

“It has been quite a frustrating year to be honest, but I am feeling all right and the more game time the better at the minute.

“I play the same every week, sometimes it comes better than others, but my game doesn’t really change, regardless of what I play.

“I was happy with how I went last week, I carried the ball well. I am still short of some ‘ks’ in my legs, but I feel reasonably well.”