Tonight couldn’t have been more perfect for Leeds Rhinos as the West Yorkshire club defied the odds to defeat rivals Wigan 42-12.
The Rhinos did to Wigan what we’ve seen the Warriors do to plenty of teams this season using speed and energy to outfox the Cherry and Whites in every department.
What made it even more remarkable was the fact Leeds did so without their first choice halfbacks, their skipper Kruise Leeming and down to one senior prop in Mikolaj Oledzki.
Things were made tougher on the Rhinos too when Corey Johnson was a late withdrawal from tonight’s game through illness.
“Corey was going to play some time off the bench at dummyhalf,” Rohan Smith said, “That’s his number one position is hooker. But he was ill yesterday and was still a bit rough today. He wanted to play but being such a young man, inexperienced and coming off 38 degree heat last week, I thought it was best to go with Muizz off the bench and he added great energy. It was great to see him come back after such a long time away.”
This means that the decision to play Cameron Smith in the halves was tactical and paid off with the loose-forward by trade crossing for a superb try.
His coach was keen to praise him and his halfback partner Richie Myler: “I’m a big believer in playing as a team and not depending on your halves to be able to play a decent style of footy. They’re there to compliment your team process because when they’re not there, you still want to be able to play like we did tonight.
“They both did a good job and jumped at the opportunity. It’s yet another spine combination that we’ve had.”
So Johnson was a late withdrawal but one that ultimately had little impact on the game and shouldn’t really have too much of an impact moving forward.
However, the loss of David Fusitu’a to an ankle injury could.
On Fusitu’a, Smith said: “He had a bit of an ankle at halftime but he felt right to keep going and he was playing well. It got to the point where it was a bit sore.
“They’re in there assessing whether it’s a ligament type thing or if it just got jammed up. If it is jammed up he might be okay. If it’s a ligament strain he might struggle for Catalans.”