LEEDS RHINOS are still feeling the pain of defeat three days ago, but big prop Mikolaj Oledzki reckons – looking at the bigger picture – they are improving every week.
Rhinos were pipped 27-22 at last year’s league leaders St Helens in a rollercoaster of a game which saw them fall 10 points adrift early on and go ahead by 12 at the break.
Though Saints stepped up a gear in the second half to keep Rhinos scoreless, Oledzki – who crashed over between the posts for Leeds’ fourth and final touchdown – insisted there were far more positives than negatives.
“We are improving every week,” stated the Poland-born 20-year-old, who gained England Knights honours last year.
“We are getting better at the small things and the things that don’t go well for us one week, the next week we emphasise these things and we try to work on them.
“I think you can see on the field we are improving and we are becoming a very very good team.
I think you can see on the field we are improving and we are becoming a very very good team.Mikolaj Oledzki
“There are some areas we need to work on, but it’s looking better and better.”
Rhinos had only four full days to prepare for the game against a side on a 12-day turnaround.
“Saints always turn up and they are one of the best teams in Super League,” Oledzki added.
“We had a short turnaround and we put a lot of hard work into the short week to try and come out with a win.
“We were all disappointed, but on the bright side we’ve got our first home game this week [against Wakefield Trinity on Friday] and the lads just want to get another win.
“This week is going to be big for us and we are going to work very hard.”
Rhinos have won only one of their opening four Betfred Super League fixtures, at Salford Red Devils eight days ago.
But they have travelled to three of the competition’s top teams and looked a different side last Friday to the one totally outplayed at Warrington Wolves in round one.
“The first game I don’t think was a true representation of who we are or what we are as a team,” Oledzki added.
“I think everyone can see we are becoming the team we are capable of being.
“We are getting better and soon we should get to where we want to be.”
It is still early days for Rhinos under new coach Dave Furner, with a revamped backroom staff and some off-season recruits in key positions.
Oledzki observed: “When you look at our team, it is pretty fresh.
“There’s a lot of lads who came in and a lot of lads who’ve come up from the academy, like myself.
“It is just getting used to each other and getting our combinations and it all comes with time, I guess.
“As the season goes on we will be better and better.”
Oledzki also feels Rhinos’ forwards are improving, despite being without five who would probably have been in or around the 17 last weekend.
“After Warrington there were a few people that doubted our pack,” he said.
“I think we put our foot down against Wigan, who have one of the best packs in the league.
“We stood up to them and I thought our pack, the big lads, did very well in the middle.
“It was the same [on Friday].
“I thought our go-forward was quite good and in defence we did well as well.
“Hopefully we are starting to show people we are strong in the middle as well outside.”
Oledzki missed the trip to Salford due to a hip injury, but has otherwise been ever-present.
The game at Saints was his 28th in the Leeds’ first team and he scored his fourth senior try.
He said: “Dave believes in the young talent and he wants to give everyone a fair shot. I am very grateful for being able to play my rugby on the field and show him what I can do.”