Leeds Rhinos: McDermott in Hardaker admission

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THE SITUATION surrounding full-back Zak Hardaker did disrupt Leeds Rhinos ahead of last night’s game at Warrington Wolves, coach Brian McDermott admitted.

Rhinos’ 100 per cent start to the season ended when they were beaten 18-6 at HJ Stadium.

Tom Briscoe try

Tom Briscoe try

Hardaker was not selected after police confirmed they want to interview him – and under-19s player Elliot Minchella – over an alleged assault in Leeds last month. Asked if there had been “a lot of disruption”, in the build up to the game, McDermott said: “Yes, it is not ideal.

“It is not something you would or should have to deal with, but what we did have there was 17 very committed men. I am not sure we were ever going to get in front, but we never gave up.

“When you lose you want to do it with a bit of spirit and integrity and I thought we had a lot of that.

“We probably took a standing-eight, we took a couple on the chin. It happens, you aren’t going to be good every week. We will go again next week.”

McDermott said Rhinos are conducting their own investigation and confirmed at this stage Hardaker will not be considered for selection, but the coach will review that over the weekend and next week. Hardaker was replaced by 18-year-old full-back Ashton Golding, who made his first Super League start and only his second appearance at senior level.

“He didn’t have much chance to do much with the ball because Warrington were too good defensively, but he will have learned some really good lessons,” McDermott said.

Of last night’s clash, the coach said: ”It was a tough game.

“It was close in a lot of respects. I didn’t think we were that far away.

“But you have got to look at some of our attack – it didn’t click.

“Some of the things we would like to have done didn’t come off.

“But with an extra pass or just one more quick play-the-ball, who knows?” he said.