Leeds Rhinos: McDermott goes back to basics

Brian McDermott
Brian McDermott
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LEEDS RHINOS boss Brian McDermott admits his side could heed some lessons from Hull KR’s simplicity.

They host the East Yorkshire club tonight looking to make a swift response after a disappointing 16-14 loss at lowly Wakefield Trinity Wildcats a week ago.

But ninth-placed Hull KR, despite having sacked head coach Craig Sandercock beforehand, did come up with an astonishing 40-10 rout of Super League leaders St Helens on Sunday so arrive at Headingley in high spirits.

When asked which player will pose most threat to his stuttering side tonight – Leeds have lost three of their last five league games – McDermott responded: “It’s their side.

“Rather than highlight an individual, Hull KR’s team seems to be balanced at the moment.

“Their forwards seem to be working massively hard for each other, their outside backs are doing the basics, they’re keeping hold of the ball and they’re working in a bit of field position.

“And I know all that sounds very simplistic but sometimes at this stage of the year that’s invaluable – just doing the basics right.

“Highlight our game against Wakefield last Friday and some of the basics were we lost too much possession and invited them back into the game.

“At this stage of the year you talk about plays and different passages of play but sometimes it just comes down to doing the basics.

“I thought Hull KR were pretty clinical in that regard against Saints.

“A change of coach – or release of Craig Sandercock – has given that group a bit of impetus. They were very good at the weekend.”

McDermott, however, is not unduly concerned about his own side’s form.

Admittedly, they have not been at their prolific and ruthless best as demonstrated earlier in the campaign when they were the most difficult opponent by far in Super League.

Leeds have lost some of their defensive steel but that is probably down to the absence of a raft of key players through injury and suspension.

Many of those could return tonight and Rhinos, let’s not forget, are still only one point adrift of St Helens at the top.

Clearly, given also Saints’ shock reverse at Craven Park and in-form Huddersfield Giants’ loss at home to struggling Salford Red Devils, all leading teams are finding it arduous in firmly grasping hold of the competition, with only fifth-placed Warrington Wolves maintaining any positive consistency of late.

“There isn’t a stand-out team, not just yet,” admitted McDermott, with his side hoping to cure that ill in the weeks ahead.

“It’s frustrating that if there’d been a couple more try-saving tackles and a bit more sterner defence, we would have been top of the tree.

“That’s the disappointing thing. We don’t really look at the rest of the competition and think anyone’s done us a favour.

“I’ve heard a few people saying Hull KR have and because these lot (Saints) have lost it puts us in a better position.

“I think that’s a false way of looking at it. We don’t focus on anything else other than what we do.

“We’re just disappointed we could have gone top (at Wakefield) but didn’t.”

The Leeds coach will hope that changes tonight though Saints are in action, too, at home to a Bradford Bulls side that now seems destined for relegation.

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