BOSS BRIAN McDermott dedicated his fourth Super League title in seven seasons at Leeds Rhinos “to the club”.
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Rhinos upset the odds to beat Castleford Tigers 24-6, just a year after being involved in a relegation battle. They lost 66-10 at Castleford early in the season and finished 10 points behind their West Yorkshire rivals.
McDermott reckons Rhinos’ triumph from fifth place in his debut 2011 campaign was his best Grand Final win, but said this year is “the best story”.
He said: “This is not the coach’s win or the players’, this win is for the club. When we got pumped by Cas I remember spending all the weekend on the phone to [chief executive] Gary Hetherington.
“They are not easy conversations to have, questions have been asked, but the answer always was to hold your nerve. The level of support [at the club] has been strong this year – everybody’s been saying we’ll come through, we’re good.”
McDermott said finishing second to Cas was a “huge achievement” and he added: “To win it, it’s crazy – and not just to win it by a wafer thin margin, we were pretty dominant. When a group of people go through so many emotions like we have over the last 18 months, you just become a very, very strong group.
“Castleford have been more skilful than us this year and put on better shows, but I would question anybody who says they’ve had more commitment than us.”
When a group of people go through so many emotions like we have over the last 18 months, you just become a very, very strong group.Leeds Rhinos’ head coach, Brian McDermott
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McDermott paid tribute to Stevie Ward who played the full game just eight days after suffering a dislocated shoulder, saying he “epitomises everything that’s about us at the moment”.
For captain Danny McGuire, it was the perfect way to sign off before he joins Hull KR next year.
He scored two tries and two drop goals in a man-of-the-match performance.
And he and said: “You want the fairytale ending, you want to win and play really well, but you realise there’s a lot of hard work to go through before that.
“The commitment to the cause and the work ethic was unbelievable. My job is to steer the team around and it’s easy when you’ve got a bunch of players who are willing to run through brick walls for you.
“I am really pleased with the win, but no regrets about leaving. I have made my decision and you have to stick by it. I was really determined to make sure my Leeds career ended on a really positive note. We’ve won a Grand Final so it couldn’t get any better. It’s sad, but I think it’s the right thing for me and the club.
“The club needs to start looking at the future and a new challenge will be good for me. There’s a real good bunch of lads here who are going to keep pushing the club forward.”