Since Rohan Smith took charge of the Rhinos, his side have beaten 10 of the other 11 sides in Super League.
The only team he has not tasted victory against is the reigning Champions St Helens. The Saints inflicted Smith’s worst defeat as Leeds boss as they made it 11 games without defeat against the Rhinos leaving them fully aware that a 12th consecutive win against the Rhinos will yield a record breaking fourth consecutive Super League title.
However, Smith’s team has gone from strength to strength since then reaching an unlikely Grand Final win with 10 wins in the last 11 as well as just losing five games under Smith since he took charge.
But against the current benchmark team in Super League, how does Smith plan to make it 11 wins from the last 12 and ensure that it is Leeds lifting the trophy at the end of 80 minutes.
For Smith, there is one clear area that Leeds must get right against the Saints if they’re going to win: the middle.
“Firstly, we’ve got to be physical and compete at a high level,” Smith said, “They lead the way with their competitive nature and their willingness to work hard so that will be the first place we need to go to find a way to scramble and compete as they will.”
Smith’s Leeds team excels in a quick game, but Saints are the masters of slowing sides down as they did against Salford last week.
When asked if this would be key to victory, Smith believed the speed of the game lay in the power of the referee but noted that Leeds must try and generate momentum where they can: “That’s in the control of the referee whether they allow the leaving off the line early and the flops and the second efforts, if that happens it’ll be a slow game and if that happens we’ll have to roll our sleeves up and get stuck in.
“I think good carries and good play usually gets rewarded in momentum.”
No doubt the underdogs after finishing fifth in the table, it does not mean Leeds have no chance but they will have to be on the money and build on their recent performances if they are going to defy the odds tonight.