AFTER what was an excellent pre-season and a superb win at Catalans Dragons, do you still feel you’re heading in the right direction after losing to St Helens?
I do feel we’re progressing, but to what extent we’ll have to wait and see.
I think we’ll have to see how we respond to this defeat against St Helens when we take to the field at Bradford tomorrow night.
We go from playing one very good team to another with a very short turnaround, and if we can respond positively with a good performance against the Bulls I think I’ll get far more of an indication as to how far off the top teams we actually are.
Although we were obviously very disappointed to lose last weekend – at the end of the day no-one likes to lose – there were one or two positives to take from the contest.
I thought the fact we had a bad period and went 12-0 behind but were good enough to hang in there and in the second half got ourselves in a position to draw level is something to build on.
IS it fair to say referee Thierry Alibert did you few favours?
Personally, I thought the referee did alright.
Like anyone else, he did make the odd mistake, but I thought overall he handled it well and didn’t referee the game any different for us than he did for them.
In my opinion, it was blokes like Sean Long and Leon Pryce who didn’t do us any favours!
We certainly couldn’t hold the referee responsible for that.
That’s what we need to focus on and not the referee’s performance.
So how highly do you rate Bradford Bulls?
As I said, they are a good side and have been one of the best in Super League for some time now.
You know when you play them you’ll be up against a big, formidable side, and that’s what we’re preparing to face tomorrow.
As in most games, winning the battle in the forwards is crucial and this game is certainly no exception.
They may have lost a couple of quality back-rowers in Solomona and Langley, but they’ve got a fair bit of depth in their pack and still have a quality back three in Menzies, Morrison and Cook.
Hopefully, we’ll win that key battle, because I felt we struggled at times in that area last weekend.
I thought our pack was excellent in the two trial games and in the win at Catalans.
But I thought we struggled at times against St Helens, especially in trying to handle Fa’asavalu off the bench and Puletua.
Tomorrow night will be the chance for Bradford centre Chris Nero to play against his former club, and I gather you know a fair bit about him.
I was his coach at St George, and there’s no doubt he’s a good kid is Chris.
He came through to play first-grade at the Dragons and then, by all accounts, he had a couple of very good years at the Giants.
I wasn’t surprised about that, and neither was I surprised to hear he’s going well at the Bulls.
I’ll definitely look forward to meeting up with him, as well as my old mate Steve McNamara.
Macca came across to St George with Richard Gay in 1995, and I think they both thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
And it certainly didn’t do Macca any harm, because he came back to England and played for Great Britain.
I was delighted to hear he’d got the Bulls job and that he’s doing so well for himself.
Finally, it’s great to have the deal with Liam Fulton from Wests Tigers wrapped up, isn’t it?
Yes, it’s certainly dragged on a while.
But due to the tightening up on receiving a visa to play here, I doubt we’ll see him for a while yet.
But when we do, he’ll offer some good things to the team.
He’s very competitive and will definitely help to take the team forward, whether he’s playing in the halves or in the back-row.
There’s no question he’s a strong addition to the squad.
LEEDS take on Manly in the World Club Challenge on Sunday, with Australian club chief executive Grant Mayer describing Super League as a ‘second tier competition’. Do you agree with that, and who do you think will win?
IT’S not really up to me to say whether or not Super League is a second tier competition or not.
However, I believe that people who do honestly watch both competitions know where the English game stands against the Australian game.
And there’s no question the game is improving over here and there are a lot of good players in Super League.
On top of that, I do think Super League is great to watch.
But there’s no doubt that when it comes to the infrastructure and facilities between the two countries it’s chalk and cheese.
There’s certainly no comparison with Australia in terms of the respective size of the talent pools and the number of kids who play the game.
To be honest, I can’t get over how Super League is played in the summer but the young kids over here play their season in the winter.
I certainly don’t envy the kids here having to train and play in freezing cold conditions. It doesn’t seem a great way to encourage them to take up the game.
Going on to who I think will win, that’s a difficult one.
Unfortunately, I’m not privy to how seriously Manly are taking the game and how strong a side they’ll be fielding on Sunday.
At the same time, Leeds seem to be nursing their fair share of injuries.
If this game was played on an even keel, nine times out of 10 Manly would win.
But, as usual, the English side will go into the contest having played more trial games and more comp games, and that often proves crucial.