When the team news came out in France yesterday, you always knew it was going to be a tough game for Leeds especially when shortly after the announcement of the team another first teamer in Liam Sutcliffe pulled out due to illness.
It would develop into a tough night too in sweltering conditions in France with Leeds being put on the back foot by Toulouse down the middle due to the Rhinos having just one specialist prop.
On the back of that, Toulouse ran into a 14-0 lead and despite a better second half, the Rhinos succumbed to a 20-6 defeat.
Head Coach Rohan Smith was certainly proud of his players after the game saying: “We had tones of players pull out all week right up until kick-off. The young players in there, they’re brave. They’re tough. It was a good hard game of footy. I’m nothing but proud of that group in there.”
Accepting of the defeat, there was one thing Smith felt frustrated by and that was the number of stoppages which prevented Leeds from finding their rhythm.
He noted how many of the stoppages came because of Toulouse and didn’t result in interchanges: “It was a bit of a shame how many times the game stopped for medical checks which didn’t result in interchanges. We stopped the game twice for a head knock which resulted in an interchange and a serious ankle injury but other than that the rest of the stoppages weren’t down to us.
“A lot of stoppages which is a difficult situation for the referee in just trying conditions. Trying to speed the game up is not really up to him. I wondered what a lot of the stoppages were for when they weren’t replaced. I was disappointed we weren’t able to go end-to-end a bit more.”
This unsurprisingly yielded a question about playacting which has sadly crept into our game recently.
This was Smith’s response: “The way we’re coaching our young players is ‘if you can get up, get up.’ We had a couple today who couldn’t. I think if other coaches are commenting on it, it is obviously an issue in our game.”
You can watch the full press conference here: