Leeds Rhinos look to sharpen up at Salford

Kevin Sinfield - Leeds Rhinos coach
Kevin Sinfield - Leeds Rhinos coach

Reigning Super League champions Leeds will use their trip to Salford on Friday to sharpen their act for the business end of the season.

The Rhinos ended an eight-match losing run by taking three points from their last two matches but their revival came too late to prevent a bottom-four finish and another relegation battle.

Before they embark on a second Qualifiers campaign in three years, Leeds round off the regular season against fellow strugglers Salford at the AJ Bell Stadium and a week later take on Warrington for a place in the Challenge Cup final.

Leeds' long-serving forward Carl Ablett says the appointment of director of rugby Kevin Sinfield and coach James Lowes has got the team heading in the right direction but they cannot afford to lose their focus.

Ablett, who will captain the team at Salford, said: "The table probably doesn't lie, does it? You finish where you are for a reason and we've not been good enough. It's going to be a tough league, the middle eights, so we've got to turn up with the right attitude and mindset and attack those games.

"We're professionals anyway so we're going to go out there and do our job. Jimmy and Kev are perfectionists and the week after we've got a semi-final as well so there's semi-final shirts up for grabs.

"It's important we go to Salford with the right attitude and keep building. The last two weeks have been good, we've seen some progress and we need to continue with that."

Meanwhile, the out-of-contract Ablett says the appointment of Sinfield has given him plenty to think about as he considers whether to accept the club's offer of a new deal or finish his career elsewhere.

"Nothing has been finalised as yet," he said. "With Kev coming in, it's changed a few things. I've been in no rush to sort anything out. I'm 32 now so it will be my last deal and it's a matter of weighing things up. I've played all my career at Leeds and love the club. As a family we need to weigh up the best move for us. Australia could be an option, planning for life after rugby, but I haven't nailed it down yet."

Leeds have left open a place in their squad for a new signing while Salford will give a debut to Australian half-back Jackson Hastings.

Elsewhere on Friday, former Catalans and Salford stand-off Todd Carney is set to make his Hull KR debut in the Hull derby at the KCOM Stadium, where the Black and Whites will be looking to bounce back from their 72-10 mauling at Wakefield with an eighth successive derby triumph.

Defeat for Hull would enable the winners of the West Yorkshire derby at the John Smith's Stadium between Huddersfield and Wakefield to leapfrog them into fifth place.

In the other game, Wigan will aim to avoid a third successive defeat when they host Catalans Dragons, who are resting a host of key players ahead of next week's Cup semi-final against St Helens.

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