LEEDS RHINOS boss Brian McDermott says he knows things are going badly when people begin telling him what a good job he is doing.
McDermott will coach Rhinos in a fourth Grand Final – in his seven seasons in charge – when they take on Castleford Tigers at Old Trafford tonight.
Since their win over Wigan Warriors two years ago Leeds have dropped into the middle-eights Qualifiers last term and rebounded to second place in the league this year.
Even in 2017 things haven’t been plain sailing, Rhinos being embarrassed 66-10 at Castleford in March and McDermott has been under pressure at times, certainly from outside the club, if not within.
“I don’t read the newspapers, I am not on social media and I wouldn’t know what people think of me,” McDermott said. “I do know bad things get said, because that many people this year – and it has been more so this year than any other year – come up and say ‘never mind what everybody’s saying about you, I think you’re great’.
“They are being genuine, so it is a little bit unnerving when that happens a lot for weeks and weeks and weeks and you think there must be something bad being said.”
The Leeds coach admitted he has questioned himself at times, but never lost belief in his players. Rhinos spent nine weeks at the foot of the table last year and McDermott said: “When you lose you want to work out how you are going to get back on track and quite often as a coach you know the answer straight away.
“When you go on a losing run like we did last year and you see why you’re losing and you can’t fix it up because you haven’t had a pre-season, then there’s not much you can do.
“If I want this group to be as good as it can be you explore every single option. I have asked questions of myself. I have wondered ‘is it me?’
“I have asked those questions a few times. If I thought it was me I would have done something about it. The responsibility I feel for the team and for the club is huge. When we were 12th people said ‘do you ever feel like just walking away’?
“But why would I want to leave them at 12th, when I have enjoyed so much success with the team? I felt a responsibility to get the team and the club back to where they were.”