Former Leigh forward Tyrone McCarthy says Hull KR may need to curb their attacking instincts when they take on Leeds in the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup final at Wembley on Saturday.
McCarthy played 18 times for Leigh between 2010 and 2011 while on dual registration from Warrington.
The Robins are averaging just under 25 points a game this year despite finishing outside Super League’s top eight and have had four players in the top 10 try-scoring list for most of the season.
But McCarthy believes a more cautious approach will be necessary if they are to halt the rampant Rhinos and end a 35-year wait to get their hands on the famous trophy for a second time.
“Leeds are a quality side who like to throw the ball around and, like us, they’ve got some special players who can score tries out of nowhere,” the Ireland international forward said.
“That’s why we need to have a lot of composure this week. We like to throw the ball around a bit but I think it’s a big weekend for how we play out our sets, our kicking game and where we turn the ball over.
“They are two exciting teams who like to score points and I’m sure the neutrals are excited about it but we’re hoping that there’s not too many points getting thrown about. We’ll settle for a 1-0 win if that what it takes.”
Rovers were forced into a battle to avoid relegation after finishing in the bottom four of Super League at the split after 23 games and, although they look safe after winning all three matches in the Super 8s Qualifiers so far, they are understandably underdogs going up against the cup holders and league leaders.
However, the Hull outfit defied the odds to beat Wigan and Warrington on their way to the final and McCarthy, skippering the side in the absence of the injured Terry Campese, says they intend to once more revel in the role of underdogs.
“The cup has been our shining light throughout the season,” McCarthy said. “When we’ve been playing inconsistently, it has popped up at the right time and we’ve been able to lift ourselves for the games.
“The underdog tag is something we’ve probably had from game one of the season. It’s something we like and we do take up as a challenge. We know Leeds are a quality team and we need to be at our best to beat them on the day.”
McCarthy, who won the Cup twice with Warrington before heading off for a stint in Australia with Northern Pride, is one of only three Rovers players with previous Cup final experience.
“Obviously some lads won’t have a clue what’s going to be happening this week, so I’ll give them a heads up,” he said.
“When I got there with Warrington the first time, it was similar in that it was about 20 or 30 years since they’d won the cup or been to Wembley.
“There was a real excitement in the camp and I’ve got the same feeling this week. Hopefully, we can follow suit and get the win.”
Already without the inspirational Campese, Hull KR are sweating on the fitness of his half-back partner Albert Kelly, who has been sidelined since the semi-final with a knee injury.
Coach Chris Chester is giving the exciting Australian as long as he can to prove his fitness but has 19-year-old Matty Marsh waiting in the wings and McCarthy insists the absence of Kelly would not irreparably damage their chances of success.
“Everyone wants Albert to play. He’s a very special player who can create something from nothing,” McCarthy said.
“If he’s not right, we’ve been going fairly well without him over the last few weeks.
“It’s been a testing time in the Qualifiers but got three out of three so we’re in a run of form and we’ve got every confidence that whoever takes to the pitch this week will do a sterling job.”