Leeds Rhinos: We won’t save ourselves for Cup clash insists Mac

Brian McDermott
Brian McDermott
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LEEDS RHINOS boss Brian McDermott insists his side aren’t fussed about facing “dangerous” Hull FC twice in just six days.

The first instalment of their double-header sees the Black and Whites venture to Headingley on Sunday for a highly significant First Utility Super League battle.

Hull then host Leeds in the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup quarter-finals next Friday night as they bid to knock out the holders.

McDermott insists his squad – who finally won at Wembley last year and savoured the occasion – do not already have one eye on the Cup.

“The fact we play each other in consecutive weeks in the league and the cup is not that unusual,” he said.

“We are not reading too much into the back-to-back games.

“We are certainly not holding anything back for next week.

“We are not where we need to be performance-wise and a good win on Sunday will put us in good nick and give us some confidence going into next Friday’s game.”

Leeds have stuttered – most recently by losing at home to Castleford Tigers last week – in the league to fall away from top and now narrowly trail new leaders St Helens.

Conversely, Sunday’s opponents have become one of the competition’s most rounded.

With the likes of Mickey Paea, Gareth Ellis and Mark Minichiello in sensational form, their pack is one of the best in Super League.

Behind that, ex-Castleford Tigers half-back Marc Sneyd and former Great Britain star Leon Pryce are pulling the strings for the likes of Warrington-bound Tom Lineham and Setaimata Sa so Leeds can expect plenty of questions being posed of them.

Hull led 12-0 at half-time earlier in the season before being vanquished 43-12 but they are much improved now with just three defeats in their last 11 games. Lee Radford’s side will arrive confident they can pick up a win at Headingley for the first time in eight years and the hosts are geared up for a fierce Yorkshire derby.

McDermott admitted: “Hull have produced some good form recently and they have become a very dangerous team.

“They were fairly strong against us earlier in the season and they have really gelled well as a team now and pose a major threat on all fronts.

“We have been hit and miss in recent weeks and we are working incredibly hard to get things right and be more consistent on the field.”

Leeds will have had an 10-day turnaround since that loss to Castleford by the time Sunday arrives while Hull had the ardours of travelling to and from Catalans Dragons 48 hours later where they narrowly lost 20-14.

McDermott has tailored his squad’s training accordingly.

“We have obviously had a bit more time to prepare for this game and the important thing has been to use that time wisely.

“Some people have done some extra work, others have had extra treatment whilst others have had some down time.

“We are deep in the guts of the season now and have to get the balance right between time off and working hard and making sure we’re not just having time off for the sake of it as we have a 10-day turn around,” he said.

Cory Aston, in action for Leeds Rhinos.

Cory Aston out to make a big impact after joining Castleford Tigers