HOW THEY deal with adversity will determine if Leeds Rhinos can maintain their 100 per cent start to the season, according to coach Brian McDermott.
The Leeds boss reckons they will face their biggest challenge yet at Warrington Wolves tonight and he said the way they cope when things go against them will be crucial.
Rhinos have trailed at half-time or in the second half of three of their four First Utility Super League games so far and were level at the break in the other.
McDermott insisted he does not expect his team to produce an 80-minute performance this evening, but said they need to be tough under pressure and outstanding when things are going their way.
Leeds were 14 points down twice against Hull KR in round one, trailed after leading 18-0 early on in the win over Huddersfield and went in at the break 12-0 adrift of Hull eight days ago.
“I wouldn’t use the phrase ‘80-minute performance’, because I don’t think there is such a thing,” McDermott said.
“But we need to be more consistent than we have been. But then again, you look at the Hull game last week and I don’t think there was too much wrong with the first bit.
“The overall performance was very good. I think if you said to a coach you’re not going to get an 80-minute performance, but you’re going to get some periods in the game – both
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offence and defence – when you are very good, I think every coach in the game would snap your hand off.
“Most coaches want it to last 80 minutes, but in reality that’s not credible.
“Just by nature you are going to concede a try or miss a tackle or concede some penalties.
“It is how you deal with those tough periods that determines whether you come out winners in the end.”
Rhinos are gaining a reputation as a second-half side this season.
But McDermott feels that’s more due to their style of play than them being fitter than opposing teams.
He said: “They’ve had a tough pre-season, I think that’s well documented.
“Players and staff have all noted how long and arduous it was, but we’ve only played four rounds, so we can’t read too much into it.
“I’ll be able to talk more about that after rounds 10, 11 or 12, when the season starts to bite and the repetitive nature of playing a game, recovering from a game and getting ready for next week takes effect.
“That’s when you find out how healthy your squad is in terms of fitness.
“A lot of it’s down to how we are playing.
“Some of the stuff we do is very good and people are keen.
“It’s one of those anomalies in our game that a beaten team always looks more tired than the team that’s winning.
“A lot of that is psychology.”
Warrington have won three of their four matches so far this season and have beaten Leeds in their last four home league meetings.
“It hasn’t been our best hunting ground and they are a good team,” McDermott stated.
“We have a huge amount of respect for Warrington in our camp.
“We know what they can do and we’ve been on the end of some of their hot days.
“That’s something you’ve got to be aware of when you play Warrington, the hot days they have when they come out of the blocks and pretty much anything and everything goes well for them.
“You control your own destiny and they are certainly very good at doing that.
“That is something we are bracing ourselves for this weekend.”