WILL-TO-WIN IS a major weapon in injury-hit Leeds Rhinos’ armoury going into Sunday’s Dacia World Club Challenge, coach Brian McDermott says.
Rhinos are without seven players due to injury and will field only 11 of the team which beat Wigan Warriors in last October’s Super League Grand Final.
But a defiant McDermott has backed the fringe players called up for tomorrow to take their chance against North Queensland Cowboys and insisted Rhinos will be it giving everything they have got.
“Sometimes to win a game it will come down to individuals and a style or a game plan, but sometimes it just comes down to the group’s desire to get the job done,” said the Leeds boss. “Whether that’s us defending everything North Queensland throw at us or us doing something they can’t plan for, I am not sure, but we will certainly give it a go.”
Tom Briscoe, Carl Ablett and Ashton Golding all miss out after suffering damage to their right ankle, within 15 minutes of each other, in last week’s 56-12 drubbing at Widnes Vikings. McDermott said: “They are six to eight weeks, maybe. We still don’t know to what extent, but it could have been very nasty, so I am looking on the positive side. We were looking at maybe 12 weeks, but they have reported there’s no massive damage in either Tom Briscoe’s or Carl Ablett’s ankle.
“They will be maybe eight weeks, no more. Ashton Golding we are still waiting for some information on. Something has gone on with the ligament that has sheared off his bone. If that heals itself it could be eight weeks, but if not and he needs an operation it could be more than that. It could have been a far worse scenario.”
Hooker Beau Falloon, who sustained a broken toe in training last month, has yet to make his competitive debut and McDermott admitted there was a “temptation” to risk him tomorrow. He said: “We had that with Jamie Jones-Buchanan [out since August with a quad injury] as well. They are both not far off, but then you look at the grand scheme of things we have got another 28 rounds to go in the league season and it would be silly.
“We could lose them long-term, really long-term and that would damage our journey along the way in Super League. The smart option is to be disciplined and wait while they get back fully fit.”
Cowboys coach Paul Green has named the 17 players who beat Brisbane Broncos in last year’s NRL Grand Final, but he insisted his team will have their hands full despite Rhinos’ problems. He said: “It would be a huge honour for us to win it, but Leeds have been a very strong team for a number of years.
“Obviously they know how to win and have a winning mentality. They have a very good culture and when you come up against teams like that there’s an expectation whoever wears the jersey does the job.
“We are expecting a tough game. We will be playing in conditions we are not used to and there won’t be many cheers for us.”