COACH Brian McDermott wants to see some positive body language from Leeds Rhinos when they take on St Helens at Widnes’ Stobart Stadium tonight.
McDermott, left, has challenged his players to give out the right signals, after criticising the way they reacted when things started to go wrong in last week’s 42-6 home drubbing by Warrington Wolves.
The former Royal Marine felt Rhinos’ approach last week was “soft” and he is demanding a tougher stance this evening.
“Focus-wise and how we handled adversity, we were miles off last week,” said McDermott.
“I don’t mind saying it, it wasn’t a great day for that. The scoreline wasn’t great, how we missed tackles wasn’t great and some of the stuff we did with the ball wasn’t great.
“But that doesn’t concern me as much as what we did visually – people waving their arms about in an animated fashion, poor body language, moaning and all attention towards the referee. That is a soft mentality and it is not what tough people and tough teams do – they deal with adversity and a wrong call from the referee or an injury or a missed tackle.
“They deal with an early try that has been conceded, come over the top of it and and get on top of sides. That’s what tough teams do and we didn’t show those traits last week.”
Leeds are bidding to record their first win of the season against a top-four team.
In their five matches against Warrington , Huddersfield Giants and Saints, Rhinos have conceded a massive 172 points and scored only 74.
That’s an average score of 34-15 to the opposition and Leeds’ only competition point came in a 22-22 home draw with Wigan, after they had led 22-4 with 15 minutes left.
“I don’t think there’s a mental block,” McDermott observed. “I just think on each occasion we haven’t played well.
“Early in the season when we played Warrington and Saints we had pretty much two-thirds of a team out.
“Against Wigan we competed really well and were arguably the better team for 70 minutes, but Warrington last week was a disappointing performance from us.
“You can’t skirt around this issue, we have to beat teams that are above us on the ladder if we are to have any chance of finishing near the top and being a strong team come play-off time.”
lBRADFORD BULLS are on an upward curve, coach Mick Potter believes.
Bulls – who visit Harlequins tomorrow – pushed Wigan Warriors all the way in the Challenge Cup a fortnight ago, before beating Salford City Reds last weekend.
Potter said: “The last two games have been pleasing for us – we are really starting to put some of the things we are doing on the practice field into games and that’s good.
“We are just building every week and there are some good combinations starting to work and there are few people with a bit of confidence, which is good because it’s hard when you are losing every week.
“We are seeing some good performances now, which is nice because we have really worked hard, even when we lost and didn’t get much out of the game. We knew that even though we were losing we were improving and we knew as a group we could get better.”
Marc Herbert, Michael Platt and Danny Addy are back in contention for Bulls, with Paul Sykes dropping out from last week’s team.
Bradford Bulls (at Harlequins): from Royston, Crookes, Ah Van, Whitehead, Platt, Jeffries, Briggs, Lynch, Diskin, Hargreaves, Elima, Olbison, Langley, L’Estrange, Kopczak, Donaldson, Burgess, Herbert, Addy.
Referee: Thierry Alibert (Toulouse).
Kick-off: Tomorrow, 3pm.