Rugby League

Rob Burrow (left) is expecting his Leeds team to rise to the occasion when they tackle Johnathan Thurston's North Queensland Cowboys.

Rob Burrow expects Leeds response in World Club Challenge

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Acting captain Rob Burrow expects the real Leeds to turn up for Sunday's World Club Challenge against North Queensland Cowboys.

Burrow, deputising for the Rhinos' injured new skipper Danny McGuire, admits that Sunday's 56-12 mauling by Widnes could hardly have been worse preparation for arguably the Super League champions' biggest game of the year.

Leeds are bottom of the table after their worst start to a season in 16 years and they also lost three more players to injury, but Burrow insists they did not have one eye on the visit of the Australian champions in the climax to the 2016 World Club Series.

"I know a lot of people in the crowd are going to be thinking that but that's not the case," Burrow said.

"It's never the case. We need every two points we can get in Super League, it's that tight.

"We were focused on playing well. But we didn't, we were terrible. Everything went wrong for us.

"I thought Widnes were really, really good and it made it a long day for us.

"But we can't dwell on that. Last week has finished now, we've got to move on to North Queensland.

"All we can do is focus on training really well this week, being positive and putting in a good performance at the weekend.

"I think the performance on Sunday was irrelevant to how we've been playing."

Already without forwards Stevie Ward and Jamie Jones-Buchanan, and new signing Beau Falloon as well as McGuire, the Rhinos' ranks have been further depleted with the loss of Tom Briscoe, Ashton Golding and Carl Ablett.

Leeds coach Brian McDermott is likely to bring in Mitch Achurch, Josh Walters and Ash Handley to plug the gaps and Burrow is confident the champions still have enough talent at their disposal to topple the Cowboys.

"We're lucky enough to have a real strong squad," he said.

"There's good players who miss out every week so what better opportunity for them to play well than against the potential best team in the world?"

Sunday's game will present another big opportunity for teenage half-back Jordan Lilley, who made only his second start against the Vikings and could go up against reigning Golden Boot holder Johnathan Thurston.

"Jordan's a great player with a great attitude," Burrow said.

"I coached him when he was a bit younger and he showed then that he can be a great player for the club for many years.

"People like Jordan need to stand up in these games and he's the type of character who will do."

Leeds will set a new record by making a seventh appearance in the World Club Challenge and they are also looking to become the first team to win it four times, having previously toppled Canterbury Bulldogs, Melbourne and Manly.

Burrow has appeared in all six previous contests and, after watching the NRL achieve a 3-0 whitewash in the inaugural World Club Series 12 months ago, knows the importance of Super League clubs making their mark.

"It's a fantastic occasion and I'm lucky enough to have won three of them, one of them in front of our own crowd, like this time," he said.

"It would be great to perform well in front of a jam-packed crowd, 99 per cent of whom are behind us, whether that be Leeds Rhinos fans or Super League fans in general because it is Super League versus the NRL.

"Hopefully we can do our bit and the other two can fly the flag for Super League as well."

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