ACTING-CAPTAIN Danny McGuire said Leeds Rhinos’ 14-6 Boxing Day loss to Wakefield Trinity Wildcats in front of almost 11,000 fans at Headingley was no cause for concern.
McGuire felt Wildcats deserved to win the Wetherby Whaler Festive Challenge, but insisted treble winners Leeds will improve in the six weeks before Super League kicks off.
“It is early and we haven’t done much practice,” said McGuire.
“I think Wakey have probably been in pre-season a bit longer than us. It’s how it is at this time of year, you’re just working on combinations and trying to get them right.
“We aren’t getting carried away, there’s still a month before Super League starts and you don’t want to be getting burned out come the back end of the season.
“We are aware of where we’re at and we know we’ve got a few things to work on. We need to get some combinations right and we’ve got a new No 9 (Beau Falloon) who we need to work with. Unfortunately, he couldn’t play many minutes (he had to undergo an early concussion assessment), but I am sure we will improve.
“Wakey handled the conditions better than us. I thought they played a bit smarter and Jacob Finn and Liam Miller both kicked well when they had opportunities. I thought Wakey deserved the win.”
Leeds defended strongly, but struggled to put Wakefield under pressure and were 14 points down, with 15 minutes left, when they scored their only try, Jordan Lilley converting after Rob Burrow had put in Carl Ablett.
Wildcats news signings Anthony England, Tinirau Arona and Ben Jones-Bishop, were particularly strong.
England scored their first try and Finn added the extras to complete the first-half scoring.
Jordan Tansey kicked a penalty 12 minutes into the second period and Scott Anderson touched down for a try which Tansey converted.
Smith was “very pleased” with his side’s work, though he felt the game could have been abandoned at half-time or early in the second period.
“Those conditions would have been tough at any time in the season; for the first game, to play at that intensity in those conditions was a very big ask.
“We had a lot of smart players. I was very pleased with that football intelligence aspect. There seems to be a bit of a bond there with them already.”
Rhinos gave a brief run to Cameron Smith, 17, who stepped straight from the under-16 scholarship into a first team fixture, without having played for the academy.