IF A book is written about Leeds Rhinos’ 2017 season, coach Brian McDermott says he’ll be first in the queue to read it.
READ MORE (video) - Rhinos’ Rob Burrow hoping to end his glorious career with one last high
McDermott reckons Rhinos’ rise from relegation candidates to Grand Finalists is a “great story”, but there is a thrilling final chapter still to be written.
Rhinos will take on Castleford Tigers at Old Trafford in tomorrow’s Betfred Super League title decider just a year after winning a battle for survival in the middle-eights Qualifiers.
Tigers, who crushed McDermott’s men 66-10 at the Jungle in March, finished 10 points clear at the top of the table and their remarkable season has overshadowed Rhinos’ revival, but the Leeds boss reckons his side have come a long way this term.
“I would buy the book,” he said. “I think it is a great story because of last year. A lot of that was out of our control, out of my control, but I do concede we weren’t good enough as well.
“Because of what went on in 2016, our margin for error all the way through 2017 has almost been eradicated. When we got beat by Cas in a horrible loss, at that particular weekend it could not have got any worse, but at the time I knew it wasn’t going to derail us.
“I knew how strong the group was, but the reaction to that I thought was because of what happened in 2016 when people had lost patience and their tolerance levels had gone right down.
“For us to battle through that and to then make a Grand Final is a huge achievement. We don’t need to win for it to be a great story, but if we do win it’s the best ever.”
Victory tomorrow would make all the heartache of the past two years worthwhile, according to McDermott. He added: “If we win on Saturday night, this is why I am involved – for moments like this. I am not involved for the money or the cars or the profile.
I think it is a great story because of last year. A lot of that was out of our control, out of my control, but I do concede we weren’t good enough as well.Leeds Rhinos’ head coach, Brian McDermott
“This is why I do the job. I don’t care what happens next week, I don’t care what happens next year – I love the moments. When we beat Hull last Friday that was a really special moment. We have had some special nights at Headingley and that was up there. This is special. There’s a lot going on in our players’ brains at the moment because of what they’ve been through and I know they can’t wait to play on Saturday.”