McDer­mott ready to pro­duce next in­car­na­tion of Leeds

Yorkshire Post - Sports Monday - - SUPER LEAGUE KICK-OFF - DAVE CRAVEN

LEEDS RHI­NOS chief Brian McDer­mott ad­mits the prospect of de­vel­op­ing another suc­cess­ful side “ex­cites” him as the lat­est evo­lu­tion be­g­ings to takes shape at Emer­ald Head­in­g­ley.

The role of any Super League head coach seems to be 24/7 and just as much about long-term plan­ning as it is short-term.

McDer­mott, in charge of the West York­shire club since 2010, knows that bet­ter than most.

Many thought the re­tire­ment of le­gends Kevin Sin­field, Jamie Pea­cock and Kylie Leu­luai af­ter a tre­ble-win­ning sea­son in 2015 would spell the end of Leeds’ re­mark­able dy­nasty.

Ad­mit­tedly, they did strug­gle the fol­low­ing year, de­scend­ing into the Qual­i­fiers, only to bounce back again last sea­son by lift­ing the ti­tle once more, McDer­mott’s fourth and the club’s eighth since 2004.

Leeds, though, have lost two more icons ahead of their lat­est ti­tle de­fence, with Danny McGuire and Rob Bur­row – who both fea­tured in each of those eight Grand Fi­nal wins – mov­ing on to Hull KR and re­tire­ment re­spec­tively.

It means the club has to re­build again but it is some­thing on which McDer­mott, whose side start at War­ring­ton Wolves on Thurs­day, seems to thrive and his squad ap­pear to be, too.

“While we’ve had some tests over the last cou­ple of years it’s al­ways been good,” he said.

“It’s been a re­ally re­ward­ing two years. We now lose Mags and Rob and get thrown some more tests but we’ve come out the other side in re­ally good shape as a group.

“You don’t re­ally men­tion that by sil­ver­ware. That is one way. But any de­ci­sions that need mak­ing now or any sort of ad­ver­sity within the group it’s al­most like they have it all cov­ered to start with.

“And then they may knock on my door and say ‘Coach, what do you think to this….?’

“But they don’t just say that as they have no an­swer. They knock on my door and they say they have an­swers and ask if that’s some­thing that I’m think­ing about, too. It’s a re­ally healthy way of do­ing things.

“But you can’t get there un­less you’ve lived it a lit­tle bit, gone through some ex­pe­ri­ences and you’ve all stuck with it as well.

“What we’re ex­pe­ri­enc­ing at the minute I think it’s a re­ward for the whole club es­pe­cially the own­ers who stuck by us and main­tained calm when ev­ery­one else was talk­ing about change.

“You go change the coach and some in­flu­en­tial peo­ple as a knee-jerk re­ac­tion, I’ll tell you now the squad won’t be half as healthy as it is right now.”

Those dark days in mid-2016 when Leeds were rooted to the bot­tom of the ta­ble, barely able to muster a win with some fans call­ing for McDer­mott’s head, do now seem a long time ago.

In terms of sign­ings, for­mer Cata­lans Dragons scrum-half Richie Myler is in place to take over McGuire’s pri­mary role while another ex-War­ring­ton player Brad Dwyer will take on Bur­row’s dummy-half du­ties.

But other play­ers are grow­ing in stature all the time, not least Brad Sin­gle­ton, the rugged Cum­brian prop who made an im­pres­sive Ire­land de­but in the re­cent World Cup and, at the age of 25, cap­tained Leeds for the first time in their Box­ing Day friendly at Wake­field.

“There’s a fair amount of lead­ers in this squad and some good sol­diers as well who will just do as they’re told,” con­tin­ued McDer­mott.

“You need that blend. You can’t have a group of opin­ion­ated peo­ple. If you do, they have to be able to have that sol­dier el­e­ment about them as well. I think Singo is a good ex­am­ple of that; he can lead and is a smart fella but can get through some work for you.

“Again, go­ing through some ex­pe­ri­ences to­gether, it brings out those traits.

“It might have taken another five years to un­earth Singo as a po­ten­tial cap­tain of the club or cer­tainly one of our se­nior lead­ers had we have not gone through such ad­ver­sity.”

Mean­while, Brett Fer­res has ruled him­self out of the War­ring­ton game as he re­cov­ers from trou­ble­some knee surgery.

The Eng­land sec­ond-row, who fea­tured in the Grand Fi­nal win over Castleford Tigers, feels he also only has an out­side chance of fac­ing Mel­bourne Storm in the World Club Chal­lenge on Fe­bru­ary 16.

Fer­res, 31, said: “If I miss the first month or two of the sea­son, in the scheme of things it doesn’t mat­ter. I just need to get right, to be the player I was and player I want to be. That’s where I’m at the mo­ment. I am not putting any pres­sure on my­self.”


BRIAN MCDER­MOTT: Leeds’s most suc­cess­ful coach has been in charge of the reign­ing cham­pi­ons since 2010.

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