LEEDS RHINOS’ Brett Ferres does not need telling how important tonight’s game is – he treats every fixture the same.
If the defending Super League champions lose once more against bottom-placed Widnes Vikings tonight they will be consigned to the Qualifiers for a second time in three years and face a battle against relegation.
Even if they prosper, Kevin Sinfield’s side will need to win again in their last regular round against Salford Red Devils next week and probably still need to rely on other results to escape the dreaded bottom four.
However, former England second-row Ferres – who misses tonight after suffering a small fracture in his tibula during last week’s 20-20 draw against Wakefield Trinity – maintains there is no added pressure.
“Everyone keeps saying how important it is to get two points this week,” said Ferres, who played on against Wakefield and hopes to be fit for the Challenge Cup semi-final on August 5.
“But, for me, it’s important to do that every week. I’m not someone who looks at the table or the next fixtures. I just go week by week. It is more about what we’re doing and the main thing is we really need to firm our defence up and take our chances when they come.”
They both love this club; it’s great to have people who really care about it, wanting to make a big difference.Leeds Rhinos’ Brett Ferres.
Leeds arrested their eight-match losing run against Wakefield and now face a Widnes side who have lost 14 successive league games, although they almost emerged from that slump on Saturday when they were edged out 26-24 by Hull KR.
Ferres, 32, insisted: “Widnes are a good side. We’ve played them a few times and don’t have a great record against them.
“They are similar to Wakefield – if you let them play they can cause problems. They have plenty of pace in the backs and can punish you with a lot of tries coming long-range. We started alright against Wakefield, but then made too many silly mistakes. We weren’t able to build any pressure and they started finding it easy to roll us down field. When they got chances they took them. We didn’t. We need to change that.”
The former Castleford Tigers and Huddersfield Giants forward is relishing working under new director of rugby Sinfield.
He said: “No one expected him to come back, in this capacity at least, but it’s a great move by the club. Kev speaks for himself, but he’s a fantastic bloke and it’s great to have him around the club.
“He’s working hard with Jimmy (Lowes) to set some stuff up for us. They both love this club; it’s great to have people who really care about it, wanting to make a big difference.”
Leeds are set to give a debut to Dom Crosby after the prop joined on loan from Warrington Wolves for the rest of the season.
Captain Stevie Ward was ruled out by concussion yesterday.
Jack Ormondroyd has joined York City Knights on loan for the rest of the season, Josh Jordan-Roberts moving there on a free transfer until the end of 2019.
Sydney Roosters have confirmed the signing of Leeds Rhinos and England winger Ryan Hall, 30, on a two-year contract starting in 2019.