HULL KR prop Robbie Mulhern is loving proving the critics wrong but insists: “We always knew we’d be competitive.”
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Although Rovers lost Friday’s derby 25-16 at Hull FC, they were ahead approaching the hour mark and impressed with their quality and grit when many expected them to vanquished.
Written off by many as likely relegation candidates, after an opening day win against Wakefield Trinity, they head into Friday’s game at Leeds Rhinos confident they remain on the right track.
England forward Mulhern, 25, said “We spoke about that (energy and spirit).
“We feel like we beat ourselves at times against Hull but we just have to take the positives.
“The effort was great from one to 17 and it’s definitely something we can build on.
“We know all the things that were being said about us - all the negative things - but we’ve just not paid any attention to it.
“We know as a group how good we are so we’ve just got to keep it up.
“Maybe it does reaffirm things but it’s definitely not a surprise to us.
“Even though we lost, we feel if we’d have been just a bit sharper in certain areas it would have been a different score.
“There will be a lot of positives to take.”
Pontefract-born Mulhern has started the campaign well and knows he has to take on extra responsibility given the tragic career-ending injury to fellow prop Mose Masoe.
“Obviously it’s horrible what’s happened to Mose,” he said.
“He’s someone I’ve looked up to since he came to the club and one of the best blokes you could meet.
“It’s given us all extra incentive and we’re all putting in a bit extra for Mose because he is - on his day - one of the best forwards in the competition.
“We all wish him a speedy recovery and wish he could be out there with us now.
“We all have that extra responsibility to make up for what he brings to us on the field.”
Leeds who will be well-rested given Sunday’s game at Huddersfield Giants was called off due to Storm Ciara.
“It’s always great playing my former club,” said Mulhern, who made a handful of appearances for Rhinos before joining Rovers in 2016.
“It’s been a few years now since I left.
“They didn’t have a great result last week (losing 30-4 at home to Hull) but they have some quality players and it’s always good to test yourself against those sort of people.
“I’m really looking forward to it.”