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Oct
2017
Saturday 7th
posted by Morning Star in Sport

Leeds face Castleford at Old Trafford in comeback clash


LEEDS coach Brian McDermott reckons it would make a best-seller if his team complete their comeback with victory against Castleford in today’s Super League Grand Final.

Already the most successful coach in the club’s history, McDermott is aiming to guide the Rhinos to a fourth Super League title in seven years when they meet their neighbours at Old Trafford.

Yet 12 months ago, Leeds were relieved to still be in Super League after battling to avoid relegation through the Super 8s Qualifiers.

“I wouldn’t rank it alongside the others if we win but I’d buy the book,” McDermott said yesterday. “I think it’s a great story.”

Leeds, champions in 2015, were rock-bottom of the table for much of last season, which began disastrously when they found themselves without their Kirstall training base after it was washed away in the Boxing Day flood.

Already rebuilding following the departure of all-time greats Kevin Sinfield, Jamie Peacock and Kylie Leuluai, the Rhinos were beset by injuries, particularly to new skipper Danny McGuire, and pressure mounted on their coach.

Chief executive Gary Hetherington insists he never considered sacking his coach and McDermott says he never lost faith in his own ability.

“I’ve talked about last year a million times and I never get bored of it,” he said. “It makes my CV. If someone wants to employ me and says: ‘Let’s have a look at what you’ve done,’ I’m putting 2016 in there.

“It was well worth going through that horrible year for some of the things that came out of it. I think our club as a whole was brilliant throughout.

“I can’t describe to you how much we went through and for us to be on a level playing field with everybody else and to reach the Grand Final, I’m very proud.”

McDermott, who became the longest-serving coach in Super League when Tony Smith left Warrington at the end of the season, has praised his club for holding their nerve but does admit to making mistakes and questioning his own role in the club’s fall from grace.

“A lot of it was out of our control but I do concede we weren’t good enough as well,” he added.

“If I’d have had my time again, I’d have stopped being brave, thinking that by round 10, 11, 12 we wouldn’t be affected. I should have really realised the lack of pre-season affected us earlier.

“It was never about whether I’d lost the group or the group had lost interest in me. But, if you are asking me at times do I feel I could have been the problem, of course I have.

“If I want this group to be as good as it can be, I want to explore every single option. I even cut the Steeden balls in half to see if there was a difference in the quality compared to the Rhino ball.

“I’ve asked questions of myself and, if I thought it was me, I’d have done something about it. The responsibility I feel for the team and for the club is huge.

“So when we were 12th and I got asked if I felt like walking away from it, I said: ‘What, and leave them at 12th?’

“No, I felt it was my responsibility to get the club back to where they were.”




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