Leeds Rhinos captain Kevin Sinfield expects the Super League giants to regain their early-season form when key personnel return from injury.
The Rhinos come out of the blocks all guns blazing, but a run of three league defeats from four matches has seen the Headingley Carnegie club surrender top spot.
Head coach Brian McDermott has blooded youngsters in recent weeks with Zak Hardaker, Paul Aiton, Rob Burrow, Danny McGuire, Mitch Achurch and Jamie-Jones Buchanan all unavailable.
Sinfield accepts things have not gone to plan results-wise in recent weeks but he points to the fact they have a Tetley’s Challenge Cup semi-final to look forward to while they remain second in the table.
Leeds suffered a 24-22 loss to Huddersfield Giants on home soil last Thursday, however, Sinfield firmly believes the title contenders will be back on song when the club’s treatment room thins out.
“You can’t win them all can you?” Sinfield told Sky Sports. “I think you’d be pretty naïve to think you can go all year without having a bit of a loss of form.
“There’s some injuries as well. If you look at the minute we’ve got a full-back missing, one of our key halves, both hookers. You take that out of any side in the game you’re going to struggle.
“We’ve got some great young players coming in but to ask them to fill some fairly big shoes is tough. Replacing some of those players that have been around a long time.
“From the outside looking in you might think we’re in a bit of a crisis. We’ve certainly not performed as we did at the start of the year, but I think there’s some reasons for that. This next little while we’ll start to get some bodies back and you’ll see a huge improvement in us again.
“It’s certainly a concern where our form has been the last month or so. I firmly believe that when we get a few bodies back and we start playing like we did at the start of the year then we’re a threat for anyone.”
Speaking at England’s mid-season training camp at Loughborough University the 33-year-old is aiming to stay in coach Steve McNamara’s thoughts ahead of the Four Nations tournament.
Sinfield, who played his part in England’s progression to last year’s World Cup semi-final on home soil, is eager to feature for his county in the end-of-season tournament which begins against Samoa in Brisbane on October 25.
England suffered a heart-breaking 20-18 defeat to New Zealand at Wembley, however, Sinfield insists the camp is positive despite not having a mid-season friendly.
“I’d love to be involved again,” he continued on the Four Nations showdown. “The last few years have been really exciting international wise.
“Steve’s created a great environment here, to be around these players who have been outstanding all year.
“You’ve got to move on,” he concluded on their semi-final loss. “I think there’s some disappointment still there, but there’s no hangover.”