BRIAN McDERMOTT believes his struggling Leeds Rhinos side “genuinely believe” they can overcome Wigan Warriors at Magic Weekend.
It says something that they wouldn’t think that regardless but such is the state of the defending champions’ continuing woe this season, the head coach says they must work towards this point.
Leeds are, of course, bottom of Super League with just three wins from 14 games, their last outing a wretched 52-12 home loss to Castleford Tigers.
Facing Wigan, who sit two points from top, in Newcastle on Saturday does not mean life is getting any easier but, on the squad’s mood, McDermott said: “It’s good. We’re confident.
“You go through one or two things through the week, adapt one or two things, and you get to the stage in the week where you genuinely believe you are going to win the game.
“That’s where we’re at.
“A win certainly would be good for the group on the league ladder level but where we are as a team as well, to beat Wigan up there would be a boost for us.”
Leeds will be without Liam Sutcliffe, the half-back who serves a one-match suspension, which poses some problems for the squad.
“It puts us under a bit of pressure again,” admitted McDermott.
“We’ve got to jostle the team around again but we’re getting good at that.
“Of players coming back, possibly
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there’ll be Brett Delaney but he’s touch and go as well.”
Given their woeful year so far, the coach has conceded there has been certain tweaking performed to his squad’s tactics ahead of the Wigan game and, furthermore, a recalibration of their targets.
“We’ve adapted certain things and changed things since round two,” he explained.
“We’ve been doing that because of results and sometimes we’ve played well and lost and kept hold of things.
“But after a really disappointing performance against Cas you have to look at what you do.
“You have to look at what you are trying to achieve – some of the goals – and we have to re-evaluate those which is always difficult mid-season.
“There is a balance but we have realised one or two things might have to adapt.”
There is a line of thinking that heading to a neutral venue – Magic is at Newcastle United’s St James’ Park for a second year running – might bring a fresh spring in Leeds’ step after the mundane rigmarole of their weekly displays.
“As a staff we talked about earlier in the week,” admitted McDermott.
“But I’m not sure either way. There’s some positives being up there but it is only two league points as well.
“It was all right being in Newcastle last year but you have to go some way to beat Manchester.
“I thought that was great and the first couple of years down in Cardiff.
“St James’ Park is a great venue. It’s up there.”
McDermott – with some fans now turning on him – was asked if the current predicament shows the strength of the club, that he has not been under as much scrutiny as he would if he had been at a rival side.
“I think that’s for you to answer (media),” he said.
“It is not the first time I’ve been in a tasty situation with this group and there’s been questions asked of me.
“I know this is a great club. It’s been a real good period for everyone to gel together but whether there’s some questions, it’s not for us to answer, it’s for everyone to look in and see how tight a unit we are with the way we conduct ourselves and act.”