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Leeds Rhinos are ‘not respectful of the game they’re playing’

Leeds Rhinos

Leeds Rhinos shipped four tries in the final 15 minutes of last night’s game against Huddersfield Giants to suffer a fourth consecutive Headingley defeat and they’ve now been accused of not ‘respecting the game’.

Those comments have come from Sky Sports pundit Jon Wilkin who has highlighted elements of the Rhinos game that he has deemed as “shortcuts”, with the ex-St Helens skipper accusing Leeds of failing to be “respectful of the game or opposition” in the 30-24 loss.

Having twice let a lead of ten points or more slip and with the game at 24-24 with minutes to go, Lachie Miller opted to go short on his goal-line drop-out, a decision that backfired spectacularly.

The Australian failed to send the ball the minimum ten metres handing Huddersfield a penalty in front of the posts before then having to restart play by kicking to the Giants, another short kick that was pouched by the Giants and saw them put the game out of sight on that set of six.

On Sky Sports post-game, Jon Wilkin fumed: “On Leeds, the short dropout gave Huddersfield the ability to go into the lead and it gave them the opportunity to go score on that short kick-off that followed it.

“It’s a shortcut! You’re trying to shortcut a way of getting the ball back rather than being respectful of the game or your opposition.”

Time for Leeds Rhinos to abandon their “shortcut” tactic?

Twelve hours on from that loss, among several hypotheticals about how or what if Leeds Rhinos had done something different, the major one has to be ‘What if Lachlan Miller kicked long on the goal-line drop-out?’

Huddersfield don’t get an immediate two points from the penalty which in turn doesn’t see the Rhinos restart play with another failed short kick-off, meaning that Huddersfield don’t score the try that puts them out of sight.

Plenty of other mistakes from the Rhinos or moments of brilliance from the Giants could have happened in those four minutes of play, but the game wouldn’t have been gifted to the visitors.

Jon Wilkin continued to dog the decision to go short on the goal-line drop-out, arguing: “Kick it long, chase hard and be respectful of the game that you’re playing.

“Sometimes I feel like those short trick players are just methods of trying to shortcut your way back in and I just think that’s not the way for Leeds.

“They need to build their game on something else other than tricks and plays.”

Rohan Smith had called into question the awarding of the goal-line drop-out labelling it as a “huge decision” that went against the Rhinos in his post-match presser.

“It’s a trend” – Rhinos legend questions controversial tactic

Leeds Rhinos Jamie Jones-BUchanan

Credit: Imago Images

The act of kicking short on either goal-line drop-outs or kick-offs has been an emerging trend in Super League but no side has opted for the tactic more than Leeds Rhinos, and often without success.

Brian Carney was forced to explain why it’s an emerging trend, noting that down under it’s used as a viable tactic, whereas for Leeds it’s often used as a method of handing the ball back to their opponents.

Carney clarified: “If we look at the other professional rugby league competition in the world, the NRL, it’s a tactic more than a shortcut. It’s a tactic being purposely used by a few clubs.”

To that point, Rhinso legend Jamie Jones-Buchanan responded: “It’s a trend and I thought it was innovative and I went along with it for a bit and it was all right, got some joy out of it and it’s not just short dropouts, there’s a lot going on in and around the game, some of it works, some of it doesn’t, but I agree with Jon.

“I come from a mould where you kick long, chase hard, do the hard yards, roll your sleeves up and get the job done.”

Despite his earlier vitriol towards the tactic, Jon Wilkin did clarify that there is a time and place for it, however, he questioned if Leeds Rhinos have the man capable of executing it.

“There’s a time for it, don’t get me wrong, there’s always a time for it, I’m just not sure at 24-24, that’s the time where you take a risk when you’ve got somebody who’s maybe not that great at doing it anyway, trying to execute it.

“It’s not like you’ve got Andrew Johns under the sticks and you go, ‘Right, just put it there’. Andrew Johns could go whack and put it exactly where he wants it. That’s not what Leeds have got.”

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