THIS IS not the toughest time of Brian McDermott’s spell in charge of Leeds Rhinos, he says.
And the coach insists last year’s treble winners are still aiming for a top-four place in First Utility Super League.
Last night’s 36-22 Ladbrokes Challenge Cup sixth round loss at Huddersfield Giants last night was their 12th defeat in 15 competitive games. Rhinos, who were without eight players through injury last night, are bottom of Super League, as well as out of the Challenge Cup – two competitions they won last year.
They play host to eighth-placed Castleford Tigers on Thursday and defeat would virtually condemn them to a relegation dogfight in the middle-eights when Super League splits after 23 rounds.
But asked if this is the toughest spell of his six seasons in charge, McDermott insisted: “I have been through far tougher periods than this. I have been on record for the last eight weeks saying pretty much the same thing.
“There are some things that are not in our control, therefore there’s some things we can’t mope about or get hung up over.
“Some of it’s not in our control. I’ve been in a position with this group when we’ve had everything available to us and we haven’t been great as a team.
“They were tough moments a few years ago. We have got a group of blokes who are spirited, they are up for it.
“Tonight wasn’t good enough, but there were periods when we were breaking down a good Huddersfield team.”
Questioned on what Rhinos’ objectives are for the rest of the season, McDermott said: “Numerically we can still make the top-four. That’s absolutely where we are at.
“It’s a big call, it’s a big ask, but that’s what we are going for. Nothing will change, we couldn’t train or try and harder or be any more committed.”
Of last night’s defeat, McDermott reflected: “It was a tough loss.
“We didn’t play well, in the first half. We lost far too much possession.
“While it was spirited and I thought there were some tough moments for us, ultimately I am very disappointed.”