FOR all Castleford Tigers are going great guns in Super League, Leeds Rhinos boss Brian McDermott believes it is time someone starts to make life really tough for them.
He contests that the competition’s pacesetters, who have been winning plaudits galore for their thrilling style of rugby league, have had life too easy so far in 2017.
McDermott is not arguing Daryl Powell’s team do not deserve their place at the top of the table but merely that they have not often been put under intense scrutiny.
Admittedly, doing that is easier said than done against a side so full of confidence and armed with so many different weapons, illustrated once again when vanquishing St Helens 53-10 in the Challenge Cup last Saturday.
Furthermore, Leeds themselves were on the end of a similar hiding when losing 66-10 at Wheldon Road in March.
However, when asked what is different about his own side now ahead of this latest meeting, McDermott answered that the Rhinos’ game is in far better condition, which should give them a greater chance of reversing that outcome.
“There are some obvious things,” he said.
“We can defend and we’ve been defending some tough periods.
“You look at that Saints game and it was a carbon copy of our game at Cas; they threw away some silly passes when they should have been looking at field position.
“They got themselves into a position where they could have applied pressure to Castleford.
“I think what Castleford do really well is they handle the pressure of being down their end and they get out of it.
“But they don’t do that much of it. Any pundit/coach/player will tell you that if you don’t spend that much time digging out from your deep end of the field, you’re going to be all right.
“Cas have had a great run this year, part to do with how good they are as well.
“But they don’t go through that many tough periods in a game. That’s no secret. I’m not letting any secrets out there.
“I’m sure Daryl’s aware of that and will be thinking well ‘you try and put my team in a tough position and we’ll see if we can get out of it’.
“There’s the challenge that’s out there, and our aim will be to get Castleford involved in a far tougher game than what they had last time against us.”
McDermott insists his squad will need no motivation ahead of this re-match which is billed as the game of the weekend.
“We never speak with finality and say we’ve got to win this game,” he said.
“I’d never dare dream saying to them it doesn’t matter if you win either, so sometimes you just keep quiet and don’t speak about it. The occasion itself, and the fact that we’re playing Castleford - I don’t need to say anything. Based on where we’ve been the last 18 months we all know it’s a big game, they don’t need me banging the drum.
“Castleford are the form team and I think we’re all scrambling about trying to catch them up.
“But just recently we have some momentum behind us, too, so I understand why people see this as the big game.”