Leeds Rhinos are generally a mainstay in the Super League playoffs but after defeat to St Helens last night they sit two places outside in eighth, with a four point margin to sixth-placed Hull KR.
The Rhinos made a late season charge into the playoffs last season where they eventually made it all the way to the Grand Final, but in Rohan Smith’s first full season in charge this year they’ll find it difficult to do the same.
Just seven games remain for the Rhinos to make up what is currently a four point gap but with the incredible nature of the 2023 Super League, anyone could beat anyone and that gap could easily grow or shrink any given week.
What is clear though is that the Rhinos will likely have to win five or more of their remaining games to make it into the playoffs given the figure of approximately 28 points will likely suffice, as it did last year.
Speaking to Leeds Rhinos Youtube Channel after the game, Smith is well aware of the situation as he made a bold statement.
“It was one of them where the bounce of the ball went the other way a little bit, you can get a bit of luck on those nights but I think it was pretty hard to say who was the better team tonight.
“It was a close fought game that could have gone either way but the two points are costly for sure.”
Had the Rhinos won and got the two points then they’d have only been two points shy of both the playoffs and St Helens and Smith spoke about how the scrappy nature of the game didn’t help.
“I don’t think it was a high standard of game but it was a high standard of competitiveness tonight.”
He also bemoaned the issues around the ruck and the play the ball, something which contributed to the stop start nature of the game.
“The problem starts with the bloke playing the ball who doesn’t have to put his foot on it, which is actually a rule where you have to at least put your foot on or imitate it but that doesn’t happen on any play the ball except the odd Australian who has come over from the NRL.
“The chaos starts there and there’s no rhythm or consistency to the play the ball, there’s a lot where you’re not sure if it will be a penalty or if it will go back to paly it again, but it’s consistent across the game.”