Our Jurors have their say on Leeds Rhinos’ 24-20 defeat by Catalan Dragons on Saturday.
I should start by saying I’ve never been a fan of Brian McDermott. This isn’t a knee jerk reaction to losing five straight league games at the end of the season and losing to Catalan in the first round of the play-offs.
I wasn’t a fan in season one when Leeds finished fifth in the table yet went on to win a Grand Final. I wasn’t a fan in his second season when he did the same.
Last season was dire and ironically ended with his highest league position of third, yet failed in the play-offs.
This season, with arguably his best set of players in four seasons, sixth place and losing in the first round, at home, to the team that finished seventh is nothing short of criminal. I’m not a fan of that.
I’ve not been a fan of how he’s used his squad. He never gave Danny Buderus enough game time, his treatment of Paul McShane was diabolical, his use of substitutes is baffling, regularly playing with 16 or sometimes 15 players, like it’s clever.
I’ve never been a fan of how it seems acceptable that we will “raise our game” come the play-offs despite that not happening since 2012.
I’ve never been a fan that he’s allowed a “we’ll win it from anywhere” culture to creep into the club.
But most of all I’ve never been a fan of how he sets his team up to play rugby.
Never in all my years of watching rugby league have I seen such a talented side set up so badly. Ryan Hall and Tom Briscoe have become the quickest props in Super League and Moon and Watkins are the best ball handling second-row forwards in the game.
These are four exciting, quick, skilful wingers and centres that are so under-utilised it’s painful to watch. Can you imagine what those four players would do under Shaun Wane or Tony Smith working under the structures they put in place at Wigan and Warrington?
There aren’t many players I’d swap at Leeds, the backs are phenomenal, the forwards have all the tools to be effective, we see that a lot, and our half-backs have all the experience in the world. So the problems Leeds have in losing so many games, to teams we should beat, and in failing to kill off games, have to lie with the man that sets the team up and sends them out. Much was made of the Challenge Cup final “coaching masterclass” and granted it was effective if not attractive. But affecting a game tactically once a season doesn’t cut it for me.
I’m not a fan, it’s time to go McDermott.
The Rhinos’ 2014 season came to an abrupt end last Saturday night after another disappointing defeat which now makes it six defeats in a row in the league and play-offs.
I, by no means blame Tom Briscoe for the loss after his error handed the French outfit the game with a dropped ball on his own try line with only minutes remaining.
Leeds had their fair share of chances to put the game beyond Catalan, but failed to do so. Questions must now surely be asked is Brian McDermott the right man to lead this talented bunch of international class players or is it time Gary Hetherington looked elsewhere?
Maybe Leeds should look at what Wigan and Warrington are doing for next season – which is having a reshuffle in the backroom.
McDermott hasn’t had an assistant-coach since Jimmy Lowes left and maybe that’s something that could be looked at over the winter period.
The question is at the start of the season would any Rhinos fan have taken the Challenge Cup victory, a sixth-place finish in the league and an exit from the play-offs at the first hurdle, or would you deem that as a failure?
I know we have waited so long to finally land the Challenge Cup, but after the way the season has ended does it not make the Cup win look a bit irrelevant now? But that’s 2014 done and dusted, roll on 2015.
Saturday was not a good way to end the season. There was a feeling of disbelief as Catalan scored a last-minute try to take the game.
Although there was some dubious refereeing decisions during the game that was not why we lost. Nor should the blame be attached to Tom Briscoe. His wasn’t the only error on Saturday afternoon. There were far too many throughout the game and this told in the end.
The Rhinos’ problem all season has been that they have not scored enough points. While Leeds have conceded the least points they have been nowhere near good enough in scoring them. This has been the difference between winning and losing games.
Leeds have looked mentally and physically drained since the Challenge Cup but McDermott and the players have all said this was a new competition and we would be raring to go. Unfortunately they were wrong. We never got going and the mistakes made were those of a tired team. Season over. Gutted.
A Sixth-placed finish, out of the play-offs in the first round, that is not good enough for this club.
We have not performed since our Challenge Cup final win. Games versus London, Wakefield, Bradford and Hull have been thrown away by poor performances.
People blamed Tom Briscoe for the knock on in the final minutes last week, but should Kevin Sinfield, Mr Calm, have thrown that pass to him, or taken the tackle in that deadly position? It was a schoolboy error from him. The players didn’t return in the second half from the dressing room and Catalan pushed and prevailed. Season over, no World Club Series for this club next season. Not good enough.
This is what happens Mr McDermott when you finish outside the top-four. No second chance and losing the games we did against inferior opposition is NOT good enough. Six straight defeats is a dreadful end to the season. Must do better next year, I think the end of term school report will say.