MIKOLAJ Oledzki has revealed easing the pressure has been key to his and Leeds’ resurgence as they aim to go all the way to Grand Final glory.
The prop master’s performances have practically made him a fixture for a place in Shaun Wane’s England World Cup squad.
He can go into this tournament as a Super League champion after the Rhinos stormed into the top six, although he pretty much stumbled over the line against Castleford.
And the way boss Rohan Smith has helped players focus on what they do best and not worry about what comes with it is behind the rise.
Now he’s enjoying being a Leeds player.
Poland-born Oledzki said: “Rohan has taken a lot of the pressure off me and lets me enjoy my rugby. When I do that, I play my best.
“There was a lot of pressure to do well and we have quite a young team. We didn’t start the season well and I started to doubt myself.
“I asked, ‘What am I doing wrong? am I playing well? There were nerve-wracking games but we were disappointed with how we finished last year and made some good signings.
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“We are very ambitious and wanted to fight for trophies. When the results didn’t go our way early in the season, we felt a bit down. Then lockdowns kept coming and it felt like everything was against us.
“The fans got frustrated, we got frustrated and then the pressure built up, but Rohan took that back and said, ‘You’re here for a reason, go out and enjoy yourself, play rugby.’
“As simple as it sounds, this allows anyone to play with a smile on their face. If you enjoy playing, the results will take care of themselves.
“I’ve had a couple of games where I wasn’t in the races and I was like, ‘I’m not firing at full blast,’ but I’ve always tried to keep my minimum standard pretty high.
“When I had a bad game, I played at a pretty good level.”
Oledzki and Leeds travel to Perpignan to face the Catalans for the third time since late July as they rack up the air miles for a game going ahead despite the Queen’s death.
So today’s eliminator – loser goes out – won’t exactly be a journey into the unknown.
Oledzki, 24, adds: “We’ve had it uphill for a while with injuries and so much travel. It hasn’t been easy and it won’t get any easier, but the greater the challenge, the greater the reward.
“The 8-0 deficit against Castleford didn’t sound so bad. We were a good 20 points behind the Catalans last week and came back to win.”
The Catalans took two points from winning the Super League title to France last year but after fourth place they will have to take it tougher as a semi-final would be held away from home.
However, this is both new and nothing new for Mitchell Pearce as he featured in several NRL finals before moving to France this year.
And he already has the mindset needed to win the duels at the end of the season, saying: “There’s more at stake so it’s getting the best of everyone in terms of effort.
“You work all year to get to this point. That’s the part that counts and that everyone remembers.”
https://www.the-sun.com/sport/6182743/mikolaj-oledzki-leeds-england-catalans-france/ Mikolaj Oledzki is enjoying rugby again as Leeds look to crown their Super League resurgence