Leeds Rhinos: McDermott scraps sun camp for team work nearer home

A four-day team-bonding exercise in the wilds of North Yorkshire will complete Leeds Rhinos' preparations for the engage Super League season.

Coach Brian McDermott today confirmed that his full-time squad's previously planned trip to Cyprus has been cancelled.

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Instead of warm weather training, Rhinos' players will spend time learning how their team-mates cope under pressure at an outdoor activities camp.

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Previous boss Brian McClennan had planned to take the team abroad in the final stages of pre-season, but McDermott reckons that is not the right option – despite this winter's bad weather, which has seriously disrupted training.

"The original camp was planned for the right reasons, but it is not what we need," said McDermott.

"That was planned without me. It has been my call and I have knocked that on the head."

McDermott added: "We will have a different camp, in North Yorkshire. We won't be going crazy, because it is close to the season, but because quite a few of the fellas have been together for several years we have to be careful of assuming that they've all been together for a long time.

"We've got some new players and some young fellas in the squad. I want the fellas to see each other in a bit of discomfort before the start of the season. I don't want the first time they see each other under adverse conditions to be after a ball has been kicked, because then it is too late.

"It won't be the toughest camp, there's nothing military about it, but they won't have too much spare time and mobile phones won't work.

"Electrical gadgets will be put on the back burner. They will go through some challenges together and experience something a bit different."

McDermott is confident that sort of camp – at the start of February - is not a gamble, less than a fortnight before the season kicks off.

"We've had a very intense and thorough pre-season and we are coming to

the back end of it now," he said.

"By the time we go on camp the majority of the planning will have been done. The next test is to find out whether they can go on the field together and can invest in each other again.

"They have done it in the past. The question is, are they willing to continue doing that?"

McDermott stressed that does not mean he has doubts about the team spirit amongst his players or their commitment to the cause.

"In my opinion, they are giving everything they have got and I don't think anybody is holding back," he said.

"But we won't find out if it has been a successful pre-season until mid-summer."

Meanwhile, McDermott has declared himself encouraged by the performance of Rhinos' youngsters in last weekend's 36-26 victory at Hunslet Hawks.

Leeds fielded a reserve team against last year's Co-op Championship One winners and McDermott said: "They were good, I was impressed.

"Some of the fellas who have been training with us – Michael Coady, Callum Casey and Kyle Amor in particular – were very good and I thought some of the part-timers showed up really well."

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