Warrington Wolves v Hull KR – How Kane Linnett aims to help Robins enjoy unlikely play-off triumph

AS BOTH an NRL Grand Final winner and runner-up with North Queensland Cowboys, Hull KR’s Kane Linnett knows all about upsetting the odds, something which he hopes to experience again tonight.

The tough Australian second-row has been ever-present for the Robins this term with last year’s bottom-placed side already surprised many by reaching the Super League play-offs.

KR, who visit third-placed Warrington Wolves in an eliminator, narrowly secured sixth spot but he knows it matters little where you finish the regular season: it is what you do next that counts most at this time of the year.

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“At the Cowboys we had both captains Johnathan Thurston and Matt Scott out through the whole finals and actually made it to the (2017) Grand Final,” recalled Linnett, when they lost to eventual winners Melbourne Storm.

“We finished eighth that year and nobody gave us a chance.

“Those games that you win where nobody has given you a chance give you the best feeling in the sheds afterwards. There’s no better feeling than winning being an underdog.

“It can be done. It takes a whole group of 17 players to be really committed, to do their job and a little bit extra.

“We know it’s going to be a tough game – Warrington are a very good team – but we’re going to go in there and give a good fight.”

Linnett was also part of the Cowboys team that famously did win the NRL Grand Final in 2015 when Thurston memorably shot a Golden Point drop-goal against Brisbane Broncos.

They finished third that season and Robins boss Tony Smith will need the experienced 32-year-old to maintain his excellent performance levels this evening if they are to overcome a star-studded Warrington.

The East Yorkshire club have lost some of their key players to injury in the last couple of weeks: prolific winger Ryan Hall, who has been so potent on Linnett’s left edge, and dynamic hooker Matt Parcell.

But Linnett is unperturbed.

KEY MAN: Hull KR's Kane Linnett. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com

“It sucks that Hally isn’t there to finish the year off because he’s been so good for us,” he said.

“It’s been really enjoyable playing on that left edge.

“And Matty (Parcell) has been unbelievable for us this year. He’s been one of our best players and caused havoc. But we’re not really looking at who’s missing for us; we’re looking at who’s in the team. Whoever gets picked by Tony has a job to do.

“We set a goal at the start of the year that we wanted to play finals footy and we’ve achieved that through a whole lot of hard work. But we’re not going into this game just happy to be in the finals: we want to keep going and put in a good fight.”

LEADING MAN: Hull KRs head coach, Tony Smith. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com

It is the first time since 2013 that the Robins have reached the play-offs and they are certainly keen to make the most of their opportunity.

They could have former Melbourne prop Albert Vete and Castleford Tigers-bound forward George Lawler back to strengthen their middle.

However, Warrington – who have reached four Grand Finals in the last nine years but lost them all - see hookers Daryl Clark and Danny Walker return as well as centre Toby King.

Scotland international Linnett, who has scored 13 tries this term, knows the smart money will be on the hosts who are aiming to send head coach Steve Price off in style before he heads home to Australia to be replaced by Daryl Powell.

But he added: “It’s been like that for the whole year.

“Nobody gave us a chance. Back in pre-season we were even favourites to get relegated. That’s not going to worry us.

MISSING IN ACTION: Hull KR's Matt Parcell is out injured for the trip to Warrington. Picture Bruce Rollinson

“We’re not looking at what the bookies are saying. All we can do is what is in our control.

“They are a very dangerous team. If they get on the front foot they’ve got great quality players all over the park, especially their halves (England’s George Williams and Gareth Widdop).

“I guess you can’t show them too much respect. If you do, they’ll hurt you.

“I think we can cause them plenty of trouble. We like to throw the ball around and they’ll be wary of that. We’ve got plenty of players that can cause plenty of damage so we just need to go out there and start well.”