Challenge Cup semi final: Leeds Rhinos eager for revenge

Coach Brian McDermott is confident the result won't have any bearing on today's Challenge Cup semi-final with the same opponents.
Coach Brian McDermott is confident the result won't have any bearing on today's Challenge Cup semi-final with the same opponents.
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Boss Brian McDermott insists Leeds Rhinos are not carrying any mental scars from their traumatic home drubbing by Wigan Warriors just six weeks ago.

The sides clash in a Carnegie Challenge Cup semi-final this afternoon – their first meeting since Wigan romped to a 50-8 victory in a Stobart Super League game on June 1.

That was Leeds’ heaviest Headingley defeat for 16 years, but McDermott insisted it will have no bearing on today’s Wembley qualifier.

“It’s a different game and a different concept,” said McDermott, who is aiming to mastermind a second successive Wembley appearance.

“The loss and the manner of the loss still resonates with us, but we’ve pushed past that. It is going to be a different event – we have got to make sure of that. When you get beaten by that many points, I don’t think you get over it until the end of the year.

“I am not going to say it doesn’t matter, but at the same time it doesn’t form part of our motivation and it certainly hasn’t been mentioned much in our build-up. We are dealing with the current Wigan and this is the current Leeds team. That is how we are looking at it.”

McDermott reckons Rhinos are going into today’s tie in “good spirits”.

“It’s great to be involved in build-ups like this,” he said. “It gives everybody a bit of a spring in their step. It is a huge, huge game and quite often semi-finals are the most dramatic games, because everyone’s so desperate to get through.

“Knowing we are involved in that type of game, it makes you buoyant.

“We have had a really good week, now it is time to get it on and we are going into it in good spirits.”

Rhinos go into today’s game on the back of four straight wins, which have lifted them to fifth in the Super League table – up four places from where they were just over a month ago.

“The league position and form go hand-in-hand,” said McDermott. “From where we have been this year, we had to turn things around. Over the last four games we have got progressively better with each game.

“We had a really good result against London, away from home and we showed up really well against Hull in tough conditions last week.

“That puts us in good stead leading into this game.”

Holders Wigan are hot favourites to repeat the defeat they inflicted on Leeds at Wembley last August – and McDermott is fully aware of the size of the challenge facing his team.

“They are a strong team and whatever it is they are good at, they do it incredibly well and they do it consistently,” he said.

“I think most teams know what they do and know how they do it, but the challenge is stopping them.”

Matt Parcell.

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