BOSS BRIAN McDermott was in positive mood after Leeds Rhinos’ 38-34 defeat at St Helens last night.
McDermott said he was “extremely proud” of his injury-team, who remain third from bottom in First Utility Super League.
“The players are devastated, I am the only bloke smiling,” McDermott said.
“I am lucky to be involved with a group of men who can probably defy the odds. We have got a fair chunk of our preferred starting 13 missing already. Carl Ablett wasn’t there for the whole of the second half, Zak Hardaker was missing for most of it.
“Beau Falloon wasn’t fit before the game and it was a gamble to play him and Brett Delaney came off with a hammy and we didn’t really see him again.
“Then you have got some blokes who have played that much game time, to be in touching distance on a number of occasions, I thought it was brilliant.”
McDermott – who hailed captain Rob Burrow’s performance in particular – added: “I feel so good about the group and where we are at at the moment, although it is another l0ss and we are no further up the league ladder. That is hard to take and there’s some hard realities about we have got to win some games, but if we don’t get what we want to this year we will go down swinging.”
Former Rhinos prop Kyle Amor was among Saints’ second-half try scorers, touching down after his huge hit jarred the ball loose from Leeds full-back Hardaker.
Amor said: “I hope Zak is all right, but I don’t think there was anything wrong with the challenge.”
McDermott voiced his support for Amor. He said “I have zero complaint.
“I thought it was a fantastic rugby league tackle.”
The Leeds coach said Hardaker was “all right” after the game. Ablett and Delaney are already in doubt for next Friday’s crucial trip to Huddersfield Giants, but Brett Ferres, Danny McGuire and Adam Cuthbertson have a chance of returning.