McDermott: New Leeds Rhinos signings are players in their own right - not replacements for legends

Leeds Rhinos; head coach Brian McDermott. Picture: Tony Johnson.
Leeds Rhinos; head coach Brian McDermott. Picture: Tony Johnson.
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This year is about evolution rather than revolution for Leeds Rhinos, coach Brian McDermott says.

Three of the most successful players in the club’s history are no longer on the books, but McDermott insisted Rhinos will not try to replace their departed legends.

“There’s the first challenge of 2016,” McDermott said of moving on from the Kevin Sinfield-Jamie Peacock-Kylie Leuluai era.

“I am not going to compare anybody to Peacock and Sinfield, they are both freaks.

“Kylie Leuluai has got his own little niche, as the longest-serving, most successful overseas player for Leeds Rhinos.

“I would never compare anybody to JP and Kev, it would be silly to do so. They are legends, Kev one of the best players Super League has ever seen and JP one of the best players rugby league has ever seen.

“Although I have not been around since 1895 I think you’re going to struggle to convince me there was a bloke as consistent as him over such a period of time in as many big games.

“The danger is we go about things in the same manner and try and replace that with Keith Galloway or Beau Falloon. It doesn’t work like that. In my time as Leeds coach Danny Buderus, Keith Senior and Ali Lauitiiti have moved on or retired and every time people said ‘how are you going to replace them?’

“You don’t, you don’t try. You recruit, progress and evolve and find a slightly different way of doing things.”

Leeds won the treble last year and will have every major trophy in their possession if they beat North Queensland Cowboys in the World Club Challenge.

That comes three games into the season and McDermott said: “We won’t all of a sudden adopt a different style or a different version of playing when we meet North Queensland.

“In the early stages of the year the task is almost to get your own back yard in order. There’s certain systems we put in place.

“I think the speed and strength North Queensland play at will be the real test for us. I don’t think the style of play will be too much of a test.

“Certain individuals are brilliant players, world class players and they are an outstanding unit, but I don’t see them using different plays than what gets used in Super League.

“It just probably gets played at a far bigger pace and against stronger carriers. Our prep’ for Warrington and Widnes, the first two league rounds, just makes great prep’ for North Queensland.”