STRUGGLING CHAMPIONS Leeds Rhinos need to take a leaf out of Zak Hardaker’s book, coach Brian McDermott says.
McDermott reckons last night’s 28-6 defeat at Wigan Warriors could have been much worse, but for the Man of Steel. Rhinos trailed only 6-0 at half-time, but collapsed after Wigan increased their lead 16 minutes into the second half. They looked to be heading for their first nilling in 18 years, but Hardaker broke their duck with a try on the final play of the game, which he also converted.
“It probably should have been about 24-0 at half-time if it hadn’t been for Zak Hardaker at the back,” McDermott said.
“Whether we have won or lost this year, Zak has been throwing his body into everything offensively and defensively. We just need a few people to take a leaf out of his book.”
McDermott admitted Wigan failed to punish Leeds in the first period.
“I have got to say Wigan let us off the hook on probably three separate occasions when they should have kept hold of it,” he said. And the Leeds boss refused to use injuries as an excuse for his team’s fourth defeat in five First Utility Super League rounds.
“That may have had some effect, but I thought the nucleus of our team were off today,” he said.
“Defensively we were nowhere near.”
McDermott warned Leeds are in danger of falling too far behind the pace-setters in the Super League table.
“There comes a point in time when you don’t want to give yourselves too much of a mountain to climb,” he conceded. “I am confident we will get where we need to be, but we’re not there at the moment.”
Jamie Jones-Buchanan came through unscathed in his first game since last July and Beau Falloon made his debut following a broken toe suffered in pre-season training.
Wigan boss Shaun Wane is refusing to write Rhinos off. “Leeds will be back,” he predicted. “They’ve too many good players, backed up by a good coach. They will be up there competing for trophies at the end.”