BOSS BRIAN McDermott says he is happy with Leeds Rhinos’ first month in pre-season training.
And the coach is planning to field a stronger-than-usual side in Rhinos’ opening trial game as he looks to make adjustments ahead of the 2015 campaign.
Rhinos’ first group of players reported in to begin preparations at the start of this month and McDermott said initial signs are positive, but he admitted only match action will show if his team are heading in the right direction.
“The players are pumped, they are looking really, really good,” McDermott said.
“They are looking very skilful and very fit.
“We have got a game against Wakefield on Boxing Day, which brings a sharp focus to us.
“With so many lads not in the international camp we are going to have a decent team out on Boxing Day this year, so it’s something for us to look forward to.”
McDermott said the annual Headingley clash with Wildcats will give Leeds’ coaching staff and players a first real indication of how pre-season has progressed.
“Things are going okay, all good,” he said.
“We are making sure we are doing everything right and having a tough pre-season.
“But as I have said every pre-season since I have been here, you can’t get too excited.
“You have got to get through it.
“There’s loads of things we are adapting, progressing and changing for next year.
“We are not going to name them publicly, but there’s a fair bit for us to chew through.
“The players are getting a lot out of it, but until the referee’s whistle blows and you kick a ball for the start of the first game you don’t know where you are at.”
Rhinos’ only new face for 2015, Australian forward Adam Cuthbertson, is due to begin training on Monday.
McDermott, pictured right, said he has high hopes for the 29-year-old prop/second-row forward.
“I think he will be good for us,” predicted the coach.
“He is at the right age to add to the squad and he was one of Newcastle Knights’ good performers last year.
“I think we’ve signed a good one there.” McDermott insisted he won’t be expecting too much from Cuthbertson, too soon.
“It will take him a while to bed in, I’m sure,” he added.
“But we’ve got JP (Jamie Peacock) in training, Kylie (Leuluai) in training, Jamie Jones-Buchanan in training, as well as Rob Burrow, Kev Sinfield and Mags (Danny McGuire). We have got some senior blokes there who can show him the ropes and I am sure he will settle in well.”