Leeds Rhinos’ top 10 moments – No 9: Brian McDermott

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IN NINTH place on our countdown of Leeds Rhinos’ top 10 moments of the summer era, we turn the clock back to October 2010, when Brian McDermott was appointed head coach – beginning an era of unprecedented success.

It was McDermott’s second spell at Leeds, after a stint as assistant to Tony Smith in 2004 and 2005.

The former Bradford Bulls prop was set to return from London club Harlequins as assistant to Brian McClennan, but two months after that arrangement was confirmed, the Kiwi opted to return home and McDermott stepped into the hot seat.

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In a three-year stint, McClennan had won two Grand Finals, the league leaders’ shield and taken Leeds to Wembley, but McDermott’s appointment brought even more glory.

Brian McDermott (centre) is unveiled as the new coach of Leeds Rhinos in 2010 alongside Brian McClennan, left, and Rhinos chief executive Gary Hetherington, right. Picture: YPN pictures.Brian McDermott (centre) is unveiled as the new coach of Leeds Rhinos in 2010 alongside Brian McClennan, left, and Rhinos chief executive Gary Hetherington, right. Picture: YPN pictures.
Brian McDermott (centre) is unveiled as the new coach of Leeds Rhinos in 2010 alongside Brian McClennan, left, and Rhinos chief executive Gary Hetherington, right. Picture: YPN pictures.

Rhinos claimed the Super League title in each of his first two seasons in charge, ended a 15-year wait to regain the Challenge Cup in 2014 and were treble-winners the following year.

Then, in 2017 when it seemed their era of dominance was over, they rose from the dead to seal an eighth title – and McDermott’s fifth – with an upset win over Castleford Tigers at Old Trafford.

McDermott also guided Rhinos to a World Club Challenge win in 2012 and his haul of trophies made him the most successful team boss in Leeds’ history.

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McDermott was in charge at Rhinos for seven full seasons and they failed to reach a major final in only one of those, 2016.

Leeds Rhinos' Ryan Hall, coach Brian McDermott and captain Kevin Sinfield with the World Club Challenge trophy after the victory over Manly Sea Eagles. Picture: Anna Gowthorpe/PA Wire.Leeds Rhinos' Ryan Hall, coach Brian McDermott and captain Kevin Sinfield with the World Club Challenge trophy after the victory over Manly Sea Eagles. Picture: Anna Gowthorpe/PA Wire.
Leeds Rhinos' Ryan Hall, coach Brian McDermott and captain Kevin Sinfield with the World Club Challenge trophy after the victory over Manly Sea Eagles. Picture: Anna Gowthorpe/PA Wire.

Despite his achievements, McDermott failed to win over some Leeds fans, who would point to a relatively poor record in the league, but his ability to raise Rhinos’ players in big matches – and come up with a winning gameplan – was outstanding.

In hindsight, McDermott could have bowed out after the historic treble triumph in 2015, when the team began to break up and proving his critics wrong two years later would have been a fitting finale.

In the end, the decision was made for him when he was sacked in July, 2018. After a spell out of the game he returned as coach of Toronto Wolfpack, masterminding their successful promotion push into Super League last year.

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Brian McDermott with the Challenge Cup after the 2015 victory over Hull KR at Wembley. Picture: Steve Riding.Brian McDermott with the Challenge Cup after the 2015 victory over Hull KR at Wembley. Picture: Steve Riding.
Brian McDermott with the Challenge Cup after the 2015 victory over Hull KR at Wembley. Picture: Steve Riding.

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Brian McDermott with Rob Burrow and Danny McGuire after the 2017 Grand Final victory over Castleford Tigers.  Picture: Bruce Rollinson.Brian McDermott with Rob Burrow and Danny McGuire after the 2017 Grand Final victory over Castleford Tigers.  Picture: Bruce Rollinson.
Brian McDermott with Rob Burrow and Danny McGuire after the 2017 Grand Final victory over Castleford Tigers. Picture: Bruce Rollinson. | YPN

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