RESILIENCE is currently a key word for Leeds Rhinos, something they will need plenty of to overcome their present situation.
They head out to France today in readiness to play Catalans Dragons tomorrow without eight first-team players, something chief executive Gary Hetherington describes as an “unprecedented” injury list in his near two decades involved.
With a sobering World Club Challenge defeat to North Queensland Cowboys last Sunday and still awaiting their first Super League points of the season after losses to Warrington and Widnes, the defending champions are seen as distinctly vulnerable.
They have had to decamp from their training base, too, in recent weeks following the major flooding that affected the Kirkstall facility.
But Hetherington insisted: “That’s something you can’t legislate for.
“We have had some adversity, but we have got a pretty good organisation to deal with that.
“We’ve not made excuses, we’ve just got on and made the best of it.
“It is a tough time and it is going to continue to be, but we are a resilient organisation, with resilient staff and a lot of stability and confidence.
“Every game is a battle and everybody wants to beat the champions.
“We realise we are in a tough period and we have got to make our way through it.
“We will definitely make our way through it, there is no question about that.”
Jordan Baldwinson and Mitch Achurch could make their first Leeds appearances of the season tomorrow – both forwards have played on dual-registration with Featherstone Rovers so far – while teenage academy prop Sam Hallas is also in the 19-man squad for the first time and hoping to make his competitive debut.
His chance could come soon given Australian front-row Mitch Garbutt starts a two-game ban for his red card in the 38-4 defeat to Cowboys.
Catalans are set to give a debut to their own more familiar prop – former Kangaroos superstar Willie Mason who recently completed his move from the NRL after being released by Manly Sea Eagles.
In the Championship, Sheffield Eagles host Swinton Lions tonight with new signing Rhys Jacks, the Australian stand-off, hoping to get a quick chance to impress coach Mark Aston.