Leeds Rhinos: McDermott preparing for massive test at Giants

Brian McDermott
Brian McDermott
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Leeds Rhinos will be out to break a bizarre sequence when they visit Huddersfield Giants tonight.

Leeds Rhinos will be out to break a bizarre sequence when they visit Huddersfield Giants tonight.

Giants have won their last five meetings with Leeds over two seasons – and on each occasion they went into the game on the back of a loss.

The pattern was repeated last weekend, when Giants suffered a surprise 22-20 defeat at Widnes Vikings.

And Leeds boss McDermott is aware that will make tonight’s game a massive test, despite Rhinos’ better early-season form. “They will be good, I can guarantee that,” McDermott said of last year’s league leaders.

“Their result last week was probably the worst thing that could happen, because they will have a definite reaction.”

Leeds’ last win over Huddersfield was in a 2011 elimination play-off, when Zak Hardaker’s hat-trick inspired a tense 34-28 success.

Since then, Leeds have been beaten 22-12 and 32-8 in home Super League games, 48-24 and 40-18 at John Smith’s Stadium in the weekly rounds and 24-8 in an away Challenge Cup tie.

But McDermott insisted tonight’s game – when Rhinos will put their 100 per cent start to the season on the line – isn’t about setting the record straight.

He said: “I don’t think we owe them one. I think Huddersfield have been an outstanding team for the last five or six years.

“A lot of it started when Jon Sharp was their coach and they had a very aggressive recruitment strategy.

“They spent and brought in some very good players, the likes of Kevin Brown and Luke Robinson. They have had that strategy for a while now and they’ve equipped themselves with a very competitive squad, a very good squad.

“We have been on the wrong end of some results against them over recent seasons, but all of them have been warranted. They have played better than us on each occasion. We tip our hat to them and we respect them as a team.

“We know they are going to be very good this week. I don’t think we have any scores to settle with Huddersfield.

“They have beaten us fair and square on all the occasions last year and in recent seasons. They are a good solid defensive team and a very good attacking team. We have no gripes with them at all. It will be a decent contest on the strength of the fact it will be two good teams having a crack at each other.

“It is the early stages of the season and they won’t be panicking, but I am sure they will want to play better than they did last week and the week before.”

McDermott is satisfied with Rhinos’ form so far, but said they can’t afford to get too excited just yet.

“We are gradually getting better,” he claimed.

“Put it into context. It was a tough game against Hull KR and we played an out of form Warrington and then had a very tough 30 minutes against Catalan. After 30 minutes they pretty much fell away, so while we scored some very good tries and strung together a bit of ball play ourselves, we are not getting carried away.

“We know Catalan will get a lot better. The danger is we look at a false dawn and start seeing some signs in us that are not really there. We haven’t really been tested since Hull KR. I mean that with the greatest respect to Warrington and Catalan, but I know they have got a lot more in them. We will certainly get tested in this game.”

Rhinos under-19s take on Giants at Huddersfield YMCA tomorrow (2.30pm).

Meanwhile, Rhinos’ Headingley Carnegie Stadium will host this year’s Kingstone Press Championships finals day on Sunday, October 5.

The Championship Grand Final, Championship One title decider and National Conference Challenge Trophy final will all be staged on the same afternoon.

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Rhinos Kallum Watkins. Picture Tony Johnson.

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