WE ARE not done yet. That’s coach Brian McDermott’s defiant message to the sceptics as Leeds Rhinos prepare to begin their play-offs campaign today.
Rhinos dropped away to finish sixth in First Utility Super League after winning the Tetley’s Challenge Cup final a month ago.
But McDermott insisted his team – who take on Catalan Dragons at Headingley Carnegie – haven’t just settled for one trophy this year.
“I have got a feeling from quite a few people that they are thinking ‘it doesn’t matter, you’ve won something and you’ve had a great season already’,” McDermott said. “That is in stark contrast to how we feel in the football department. We feel massively different.
“We have had a taste of success and we aren’t thinking that’s good enough, we want more. Nobody’s saying we’ve done enough.
“We want to get to the Grand Final and win it. We aren’t done – we don’t think because we’ve got the Challenge Cup we are done.
“We want to do something really special and we are pumped for this.”
Rhinos are the only club to have won the Grand Final after finishing outside the top-four in the league table.
Their back-to-back victories from fifth spot in 2011 and 2012 re-wrote the record books, but McDermott said there is an even greater achievement to aim for now.
“Coming from sixth, it is not an easy route,” McDermott conceded. “But it is remarkable how many firsts this team has achieved. We could do another, not just by doing the double, but by doing it from sixth.”
Rhinos have lost their last five league matches and McDermott admitted they can’t simply write that off and start again.
But he said: “The two really costly ones were Bradford and London, either side of a Challenge Cup semi-final – which was two weeks before the final.
“If you put that into context, you get a bit more understanding. Of the three defeats afterwards, the first was St Helens the week after. That was a big ask in itself, but we lost by one point with 12 men.
“We were competitive against Wigan, but ran out of ideas a bit and Hull was bizarre, crazy.
“We had an attitude-change after half-time and got a grip of the game, but lost it in the last 15 minutes. I am not excusing those losses, but you have to put them into context. In each of them we did some things that say we are in decent shape. And we are going into the play-offs with the best defence in the league, having conceded the least tries.”
Catalan finished seventh in the table, one place and three points behind Leeds.
They have never won at Headingley, but were leading when the hooter sounded three months ago, only for Liam Sutcliffe’s penalty goal to give Leeds a 32-31 success.
“We have had enough battles with Catalan over the last two or three seasons to know they are a dangerous beast,” McDermott warned. “Their form in the league over the last five years has been very competitive. They have had their trials and tribulations, but they are a big side and they don’t try and play round you.
“They are good with the ball and they can use it, but they play on the back of very aggressive forwards and we have to have a mindset towards competing and beating their forwards if we are going to have a chance of winning this game.”