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Time to Push the Panic Button?
Posted by southstander on March 14 2007 - 08:04:21

Five games into Superleague XII and the Rhinos are languishing in fifth place after humiliating defeats at the hands of newcomers Hull KR and last seasons bottom side Catalan Dragons.

Looking at the Rhinos opening seven fixtures for the season many Rhinos fans would have expected us to get to the Fourth Round of the Challenge Cup with a 100% record, but is our failure to do so necessarily a bad thing?

Read more here....

Superleague is a marathon and not a sprint.

While the pre-season odds of Wakefield and Hull KR being tied for top spot with Bradford at this stage in the season would have been massive, they are even bigger odds that they will still be there at the end of the year. Currently, SportingOdds.com have Wakefield listed at 100/1 to be top of the pile at the season end and KR are an even longer 200/1. Only a fanatical or foolish man would back at those odds, the bookies know what they are doing.

Many sides who know that they will reach round twenty-four in the middle of a relegation dog fight have trained hard in the off-season with a hope of peaking in round one and getting a few early points under the belt to help them avoid the drop at the business end of the season. The Grand Final contenders have done exactly the opposite and had a relaxed pre-season (look at the sides we fielded in the friendlies) in the hope of reaching top condition mid-way through the season and peaking in time for the play-offs and the run to Old Trafford.

Saints lost to Harlequins, Wigan lost to Hull KR and we lost to Catalans. Working on the philosophy above, these were all predictable outcomes.

Last year we set off like a house on fire, winning ten out of our opening eleven fixtures, losing out narrowly in the away game at Saints being the only blot on our copy-book. But when it really mattered, when the glory of the Grand Final beckoned, we were found seriously wanting losing seven of our last ten games.

It is impossible to maintain fitness and intensity for the nine months that make up the Superleague season, coaches and trainers have to pick the key months that they want their players to be in peak condition and from the current standing of the league table it looks like Smith, Anderson and Sharp have all decided to sacrifice a few points in early season and keep their powder dry for later in the year.

There is no getting away from the fact that the losses to the Dragons and Robins have been painful but I'm prepared to suffer the pain now for the gain later.

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