14th July 2016, 13:14 | super_league

Sutcliffe insists Leeds are full of confidence ahead of Wigan test

Sutcliffe insists Leeds are full of confidence ahead of Wigan test

Liam Sutcliffe admits Leeds "wasn't the nicest place to be" during their dark days but says confidence is now at a season-high.

The Rhinos, already condemned to a relegation battle via the First Utility Super 8s Qualifiers, knocked Hull FC off the summit with victory at the KCOM Stadium a week ago and aim to do the same to new leaders Wigan Warriors at Headingley on Friday night.

Wigan coach Shaun Wane concedes Leeds are the form team and Sutcliffe reveals there is a new mindset among the fallen champions, who have won three of their last four matches.

"It's good coming in on a Monday knowing you've had a win at the weekend," he said. "At the start of the year, everyone was obviously down and low on confidence after loss after loss.

"It wasn't the nicest place to be but there's no point looking back, we've got to plan for the middle eights and everyone is full of confidence.

"We've had a couple of wins and a couple of decent performances. I think the stuff we've been doing over the last few weeks has been building and building and we do feel we're improving week by week. It showed in the victory over Hull.

"It does help having players back and I think we're playing a different way to how we were playing at the start of the year and it's obviously working."

Leeds are now back at a refurbished training base and winger Tom Briscoe is the latest of their long-term injured players set to return to action.

They also appear to have discovered the answer to the hooking problems following the arrival of James Segeyaro and Sutcliffe, who was seen as the natural successor to playmaker Kevin Sinfield at the start of the season, has made a promising switch to the full-back role vacated by Zak Hardaker.

"I'm enjoying it," Sutcliffe said of his new position. "The more I play there, the more confident I feel.

"It's similar to half-back attacking wise but there are other aspects you have to learn. I got a fair few tips from Zak before he went and Ashton (Golding) has been helping as well. Even though he's younger than me, he's had more experience in that role.

"If that's where I play for the rest of the year, hopefully I can keep on improving."

Wigan are on a roll after winning their last eight league and cup matches but Wane is acutely aware of the threat posed by last year's treble winners.

"I've still not forgotten what they did last year, that was unbelievable," Wane said. "I've said all year they'd be back and it's just our luck that we play them now.

"Not many teams beat Hull in Hull and they were good for the win.

"They're playing better than us at the minute. We need to put a dent in them. We're not playing that well and we're down on numbers but we'll try and put 17 players out there that will test them."

Wigan are without skipper Sean O'Loughlin through suspension but Wane is likely to give a debut to new signing Frank Paul Nuuausala off the bench following his arrival this week. 

In Friday's other match, Widnes Vikings will be aiming for their first win in four games against Salford Red Devils, who have gained two eight-point victories this year.

The Red Devils are boosted by the return from suspension of winger Justin Carney, who has scored tries in his last three appearances against the Vikings.