Hooper - Close, but still no cigar
By Stuart Hooper
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Stuart Hooper says Leeds' latest GP defeat was the most agonising.
Of our four defeats in the season so far, Sunday's at home to Leicester was the hardest to swallow.
Obviously we did play a lot better - we certainly defended a lot better - but to lose, and by eight points, was agonising.
If you are going to lose, you aim for losing by less than eight to pick up what could be a vital bonus point, but in reality, it should never should have been a loss at all.
In the end we played our best rugby in the wrong field positions and then didn't capitalise on our possession when in the Tigers' territory, too frequently knocking-on and wasting quality ball.
But as I have said before, in a long season you cannot afford to get down about losing, particularly after only four games, and we took a lot of positives out of Sunday's performance.
You have no choice, when you are not winning, you have to remain positive, and one of the good points about our changing room is the amount of experience in it. Yes, we have lost games, but wise words have been said by people who have endured these runs before, and we know we have to move on. There is no time to get despondent.
One of those guys is Justin Marshall - a very experienced and succesful guy but he has lost a game or two before, and has reacted well. He has been a great help with some of the younger guys and always has plenty of input as to where we need to go.
Next on our agenda is the Powergen Cup, and the new format looks very exciting from a playing point of view. One of the things about the Premiership is that you play against the same sides, and the same players, twice a year, every year.
But the Anglo-Welsh format this season means we will be pitted against different players, which is a challenge we are looking forwards to. It is certainly not one we are taking lightly as the Scarlets represent a huge task as they arrive in Leeds with genuine Welsh, Celtic and European pedigree.
After our start to the season, there is no chance of us resting and rotating players. Every game for us is important, and we have to play better than we have been. Whether against a Premiership or Welsh team, it is another chance to practice, as we need to improve and quickly.
England's squad was announced this week, and far from being disappointed at not being included myself, I was very pleased for the Leeds lads, Tom Palmer and Iain Balshaw, as well as some of the guys I toured with for the Churchill Cup this summer, such as Lee Mears of Bath, who is a good mate, and Peter Richards of Gloucester.
It came as no suprise that I was not in the squad. I've been on the bench for Leeds for last two games and my priority is to get back into the first team. It always works this way, and whilst Tom is away with England, I could get my chance to step up in the first team again and consolidate my own position.
I like the look of Andy Robinson's latest squad; he has kept the right people and brought the right, new people threw.
Finally, I read this morning that Jonah Lomu could be on his way to play for an English club - something that would be great for the game over here.
I don't think that he is coming to us though - I have heard nothing, but it would be a bit of coup! It would be fantastic, and he could play for both the Tykes and the Rhinos.