BOSS Brian McDermott is confident Leeds Rhinos are not on the edge of a 2014-style collapse following their 46-16 defeat by Catalans Dragons in Perpignan.
Rhinos, who were on a seven-game winning run, have now lost successive games since lifting the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup. Last year they lost all four matches after their Wembley success, but McDermott insisted: “Our damage last year was caused before the Challenge Cup final.
“We lost our two league games building up to it, against Bradford and London. If it was anything wrong towards the back end of last year, they were the indicators.
“I think we’ve been great for a long, long period of time. We turned our guts, put our intestines into the game against St Helens last week, gave everything we had.
“It just wasn’t enough, then we’ve come to Catalans and played an unbelievably determined team and a tough team and we didn’t do things well. While there are one or two similarities between this and last year, I don’t think there’s anything in it.”
Assessing what went wrong on Saturday, McDermott said: “It was a tough day, a tough one to take.
“Clearly our defence wasn’t where it should be and we made too many errors.
“Catalans can do that to you. They had a lot to play for and one or two things came off for them which gave them momentum.
“When they had momentum we never really got it back.”
McDermott said he hadn’t seen the below-par performance coming. He added: “In terms of prep’ I didn’t get anything from there, but at the same time you know when you come to Catalans you might lose.
“They were on the money, they lost against Wigan last week and we knew they were going to be determined. We knew it was going to be a tough old day because they’ve got a few fellas retiring and a few moving on. I suspected it was going to be a tough game, but you don’t think it’s going to be a 40-odd scoreline.”
But he stressed: “What I didn’t see was a group of blokes who don’t care or who turned it in. I thought we again had a real crack. Clearly it wasn’t good enough and some things weren’t right, but there’s no lack of effort there. Every time we play I am really proud of them and I was really proud of the way we didn’t roll over. It could have been a 50-odd scoreline, but we wouldn’t let it be.”
McDermott refused to use injuries as an excuse, saying: “We got beat by Catalans because they were the better team. They played better and capitalised on a lot of the opportune things that came their way, some freakish tries from them, but at the same time momentum goes that way.”
There are “good chances” Kallum Watkins (ankle) and Rob Burrow (quad) will return against Castleford Tigers on Thursday, according to the coach.
“That’s a huge, huge game for us,” he conceded. “We still want to finish top.”