COACH OF the year Brian McDermott admits Leeds Rhinos are in a “tough period” and says hard work is the way out of it.
Rhinos are bottom of First Utility Super League after losing their opening three games, including a 32-28 reverse at Catalans Dragons two days ago.
They were also beaten by North Queensland Cowboys in the Dacia World Club Challenge and have not won a competitive game since last year’s Grand Final.
Rhinos are heading into a run of matches against the team who finished below them in last year’s top five. They are at home to Huddersfield Giants on Friday and then face Wigan Warriors at DW Stadium, St Helens at Headingley and travel to the Jungle to take on in-form Castleford Tigers.
“We are having a tough period at the moment, we’re having a tough run,” McDermott accepted. “This is how it is, we are going through it at the moment, but we have got to make sure we keep working and keep trying to get everything out of the working week.
“I’ve just said to the players we’ve got a working week to be as good as we can be and then come game day give it a shot. That’s all we ask, just give it a shot - be as good as you can be through the week and try and improve and try and fix things up, but in reality we are not in a good place and we’ve got to fight our way out of it.
“While we do that we stick together, maintain integrity and make sure we are solid throughout it all, because questions will obviously be asked.
“People will poke a stick and people will highlight stats and games lost and won or whatever. It’s making sure we are as good as we can be throughout the working week.”
Of Saturday’s game, McDermott said: “There were too many periods when we were loose and defensively too many soft periods in the early stages.
“But we had a crack, had a dig. We’ve been here before [Perpignan] when Catalans have got momentum and we never got back in the game.
“I am really pleased the players found a way to get back in the game and effectively made it a close encounter, but I won’t be consoling myself or consoling the players too much with that, because we were poor with the ball in too many areas and too many soft periods.”
It was the second time in three league games that Leeds Rhinos have scored the same number of tries as their opponents.
Asked if that was any consolation or an indication Rhinos are not far away, McDermott declined to answer the question.
However, he insisted: “I think I spoke very positively about that performance.”
Meanwhile, Rhinos under-19s were beaten 33-24 in the curtain-raiser, after it was 6-6 at half-time.
Jack Wray, Cameron Smith, Ryan Jones and Alex Sutcliffe scored Leeds’ tries, all converted by Joe Sanderson.
Rhinos’ side included eight players in their first season at under-19s level, five in their second and three in their third and final year.
Corey Johnson scored a hat-trick for Rhinos under-16s in a 56-26 win over Widnes Vikings at Stanningley.