Leeds Rhinos: Mac speaks up for Super League referees

New Leeds Rhinos coach Brian McDermott has spoken up for engage Super League's referees.

And he insisted Rhinos won't be attempting to influence match officials on his watch.

McDermott hailed the men in the middle for doing a "professional job" and said he will be concentrating on his own team's – rather than the referees' – performances this year.

Rhinos were penalised seven times for dissent in engage Super League last season – the joint second-worst offenders.

Bradford Bulls and Catalans Dragons conceded a similar number of penalties for back-chat, while Hull were penalised nine times.

In total, Rhinos conceded 217 penalties, the competition's sixth-poorest record. They also received 217 penalties, which was fewer than eight rival clubs.

"We will be concentrating on what we can control, rather than trying to influence a body of people we have no control over," said McDermott, whose side were beginning their pre-season campaign at home to Wakefield Trinity Wildcats today.

"We have zero control of referees and we will not be moaning about things we can't control.

"In my opinion there are far more important things to think about – and other things that can affect the outcome of a game.

"I will not be venting my frustration through a bloke who, in my opinion, is doing his best.

"I don't believe referees have an agenda against certain teams. I speak to them after games and they are professional people, who take a pride in that.

"I don't think they go into a game thinking 'I am going to try and influence this one way or another."

McDermott believes the best sides will be awarded more penalties than they concede.

"Most of the referees have played the game or had an involvement in it, maybe through coaching," said the Leeds boss.

"They will be of the opinion that the team that runs the hardest and tackles the hardest deserves to win.

"Normally, they will also win the penalty count because if you don't run as hard and tackle as hard, you have to do it by other means – so they should be penalised more than the opposition."

Criticism of referees seems to be on the increase and McDermott admitted not everyone shares his view of the men in the middle.

"I know I am probably out on my own with some of these judgements," he accepted.

"There are arguments against and I know some people are of the opinion that you can influence the outcome of games by certain tactics, but I don't think that includes speaking to referees.

"I am more concerned about what my front-rowers do – at what time do we bring them off, how do they cope when they are fatigued?

"That is my primary concern. Referees don't cost teams a game."

McDermott said he will speak to referees' boss Stuart Cummings on a regular basis – but only to get a view on how his team are performing.

"I will talk to him to seek clarity on different interpretations and I'll talk to all referees after a game, because I want to know what their views are," he said.

"But I will do that with the greatest amount of respect. At no stage will I try and influence them.

"If we have a better understanding of their mentality and their interpretation of rules and regulations we are going to be a better, more disciplined team."

McDermott's previous team Harlequins were awarded only 168 penalties last season, the lowest number in Super League. They conceded 203, with only Warrington Wolves and Hull KR having a better disciplinary record.

Yorkshire's Matthew Fisher. Picture: John Mallett

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