FORMER ENGLAND forward Brett Ferres has been one of Leeds Rhinos’ best and most consistent performers over the first three games of the season and he is hoping to continue that away to St Helens tomorrow.
Ferres, 32, was a high-profile signing for Rhinos, from Huddersfield Giants, ahead of the 2016 season, but has been dogged by injuries throughout his time at the club.
Now fully fit, he is enjoying being part of a team beginning to find their feet under new coach Dave Furner.
“It’s nice to start the season with a bit of a clean slate and to be 100 per cent, fit and ready to go,” Ferres admitted.
“It is still early days, but it’s been hard over the last few years stringing games together. I have always played busted here, which is not ideal, but it is what it is.
“I’ve just cracked on with it and it’s nice to be able to go into games feeling fresh and feeling fit and being able to back myself. Hopefully that’s showing in my performances and I can keep building on that.”
It’s nice to start the season with a bit of a clean slate and to be 100 per cent, fit and ready to go,Brett Ferres
Four of Rhinos’ 17 in last week’s win at Salford Red Devils were new signings, but combinations are beginning to develop, Ferres reckons.
“I like to push and run lines and I’ve got a bit of a combination with Mez [Trent Merrin] at the moment where I am pushing on him and being able to create a bit for Konny [Konrad Hurrell] out wide as well,” he said.
“It is early days with that as well. It’s all right doing it in training, but it’s about transferring it on to the field. I feel like we are in a decent place at the minute. A few things came off at the weekend and we are slowly building. It has been a tough couple of weeks, but getting off the mark with the win at Salford was good so the mood’s pretty good in the camp.”
Ferres’ back-row partnership with Merrin has the potential to be a key one for Leeds this year. He added: “You only have to watch the NRL to know he’s a classy player.
“He is a big boy who can shift and he has got a good pair of hands on him. I am trying to get on the end of that and get a few off him.
“As a big bloke you run in there and you get a few around you. It’s little things like that, getting combinations and seeing what’s what. It’s the same with the bloke outside me, Konny. I am very lucky to have someone like that and we have got threats all over the park this year, which is good.”
After running in eight tries at Salford and conceding only two Rhinos will cross the Pennines tomorrow in confident mood. Of the attacking performance five days ago, Ferres said: “It was a bit like the Leeds of old, when they threatened from deep within and had the ability and the pace in the backs and the forwards were creating stuff and getting quick play-the-balls.
“It was nice to see and it was nice to see the boys enjoying it as well. We have been through some tough days and it was nice to see us all together, enjoying ourselves and kicking on – not just scoring a try and waiting and defending a set and getting one scored against us; we were backing a few tries and having a really successful spell.”
Rhinos also coped well when things went against them, something they will need to repeat tomorrow evening.
“We heard a lot about that last year,” Ferres recalled. “People were doubting us, saying when someone scores early on against us we go into our shell and fall into a bit of a cave.
“I just think with the group we’ve got it’s quite a new group, but we’re really positive about what we do and we get rid of that pretty quick and move on.
“I think that’s showing now. There’s some good signs within us and hopefully it continues.”
Like Salford, Saints have won their opening two games. They have had almost two weeks to prepare for tonight and Ferres warned: “It’s one of those games that’s always a tough one, regardless of who Saints put out.
“We are looking forward to it and we’re obviously going there confident with the performance last week and what we did, but there’s still loads of improvement in us.
“It is about us again this week, it’s not really about what they’re doing and where they are at. It’s about us building and continuing our little journey.
“We have pretty fresh staff and pretty fresh players. We are still learning about each other and situations and I think it does show in little patches, but I think on the whole we were good last week and if we can build on that and keep moving forward we’ll be happy.”