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Leeds Rhinos v Leigh: McDermott urges referee to get tough if Challenge Cup tie turns feisty

Leeds Rhinos head coach Brian McDermott.
Leeds Rhinos head coach Brian McDermott.
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LEEDS RHINOS head coach Brian McDermott has urged referee Chris Kendall to replicate legendary official Fred Lindop and “stamp his authority early” on tonight’s Ladbrokes Challenge Cup quarter-final against Leigh Centurions for the “good of the sport.”

The Super League champions, out of sorts and depleted by injuries, face the in-form Championship side knowing they could be at risk of an upset, moreso given the ‘home’ game is switched to Featherstone Rovers due to Test match cricket at Headingley.

However, Leigh have also certainly become known for their aggressive tactics which can sometimes end in unruly scenes.

Indeed, their ill-tempered game against Toronto Wolfpack at last week’s Summer Bash is currently under investigation by the RFL.

Television pictures showed a confrontation between Toronto’s former Leigh boss Paul Rowley and Centurions’ newly-appointed head coach Kieron Purtill in the immediate aftermath of the Wolfpack’s 28-26 victory.

Leeds – who beat Leigh at this stage of the competition in 2012 and 2014 – are mindful of what might lie ahead.

McDermott said: “Leigh are a good team and they’re playing really well. They can play that very aggressive style.

“Against us they have a history, especially coming to Headingley, of trying to put it on our team – our pack in particular – which can be effective.

“My team has got to get ready for that – and the referee needs to be aware of that as well.”

Challenge Cup holders Hull FC found themselves in one such game in the previous round when they narrowly overcame Championship Featherstone in a bad-tempered match where discipline fell apart.

McDermott continued: “We can’t just put it into the realms of ‘that’s just an opposition being aggressive.’

“No. Some of what those types of team do is illegal and they cross the line.

“Yet because it’s the Challenge Cup and because it’s on the TV I’m hoping the referee just doesn’t let things go – for the health of the game – or we end up with scenes like we did last week (Summer Bash) which didn’t do anyone any good.

“It didn’t do the coaches any good, the teams any good or the sport any good.

“I’m not putting that all at the foot of the refs at all.

“But I’ve been involved in these games enough in the past where the referee – with a Fred Lindop-style – can stamp his authority early and say ‘that ain’t going to go on today.’ If you’re going to beat Leeds or if Leeds are going to beat Leigh you do it through skills, toughness and aggression. Not through ‘old-school’ which nobody wants to see.”