FANS’ PLAYER of the year Matt Parcell is still coming to terms with the long and the short of Super League.
Parcell joined Rhinos on the eve of the season and admitted it has been difficult adjusting to a 30-game league campaign, followed by a two-match play-offs series.
Rhinos complete their Betfred Super-8s fixtures away to Huddersfield Giants tonight, a week before a sudden-death semi-final.
If they reach the Grand Final in 15 days’ time it will be their 36th competitive game of the year, 12 more than some teams in Australia’s NRL.
Parcell – who was voted Leeds’ best player this term by fans and was runner up to Joel Moon for the club’s player of the year – has made 31 appearances so far.
He said: “It is quite a long season.
“It is just [a case of] getting used to playing a lot of games.
“It is a bit different here with the structure and how short the semi-finals series is.
“We have said all along, especially now we have got second, you only have to be at your best going into the semi-finals.”
Rhinos are already assured of finishing second and have nothing to play for on the table tonight, but Parcell said: “It is all about building towards the semi-final.
“We want to put in a good performance. We don’t want to be going into the semi-final on the back of a poor performance.
“That is our main focus. I think momentum is the big thing, especially the ways the semi-finals are over here.
“It’s such a short semi-finals if you get a bit of momentum going into it you only have to win two games and you could win the Grand Final.”
Rhinos are a massive 12 points behind league leaders Castleford, but five clear of third place. A win tonight would take them to 40 points, only one fewer than achieved in their treble-winning season two years ago.
“Cas have obviously had a really, really good year and they deserve to be up there,” Parcell said.
“But I think we have had quite a good year. We’ve beaten Hull three out of three in the league, we’ve beaten Wakefield, Saints and Wigan two out of three.
“Besides Cas we have beaten all the other teams.”
Rhinos still don’t know who they will be facing in next Friday’s home semi-final, but Parcell insisted they have no preference.
“It is very tight,” he said. “It will be interesting to see what happens this weekend and who gets that third and fourth spot.
“We are not too concerned who we play. It’ll just be a case of once we find out, prepping’ towards that.”
Parcell insisted lessons have been learned from two months ago, when Rhinos were crushed by Hull at the penultimate stage of the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup.
“That was disappointing, but we have been really good this year at bouncing back from disappointing results,” he said.
“When it comes to the semi-final next week we will be ready.
“We have got a really good record at Headingley and it is a big advantage playing at home.”