McDermott in determined mood
17th August 2012
There is no danger of Leeds Rhinos taking their foot off the gas against Catalan Dragons tomorrow even if there is a Challenge Cup final just eight days away, according to coach Brian McDermott.
The defending champions face Warrington Wolves at Wembley a week tomorrow and have already suffered two injury blows, with Danny McGuire (knee) being ruled out and Rob Burrow (calf) a doubt.
A long trip to a baking hot south of France would not be high on their priorities as a result, especially for a meeting with a bruising and title-hunting Dragons side.
On the other side of the coin, with his squad in good health, Warrington boss Tony Smith has rested six players for his side's clash with London Broncos, but unlike the Wolves, Leeds' finishing position is not secure.
Warrington are certain to be in the top two, while the Rhinos are jostling for position ahead of the play-offs and McDermott said: "If we were sitting pretty in the league we may have looked to do certain things and change the team a little bit, but where we are in the league and how important the win is in the league, plus the news about Danny McGuire being out of the team now has put things differently.
"If I'm honest, though, we were always going to go to Catalan and give it a go. There is a theory that you might rest one or two blokes before a big game, but you can try and tell those blokes it's the right thing to do.
"They don't want to rest and I don't think they need it, and I don't want to have to manage a poor performance the week leading up to a Challenge Cup final so our task is to go out there and play well.
"You would like a home game, but this is what we've got and this is what we will deal with. The main reason why it is difficult, though, is that they are a very good team and they have a good coach in Trent Robinson."
The Dragons can welcome Thomas Bosc back into their side but, with form eluding them of late, the last thing they needed was a lengthy injury list heading into the play-offs.
That is what they have got, though, with key forward Steve Menzies heading up a list of five players who will not be involved tomorrow.
Hull FC are another side to have experienced fitness problems this season, and they take their campaign to Widnes Vikings knowing a win will keep them in the running for a third-placed finish.
They face tricky opposition, however, in the form of a Vikings side that, despite being rooted to the bottom of the table, are capable of scoring points on their home pitch.
"In their last five home games they have been averaging 30 points, so they are certainly throwing caution to the wind and on their home track they are a very good side," said Hull coach Peter Gentle.
"Our defence is going to have to be good. In fact, it has to be spot on as they are going to threaten us as much as any other side in this competition."
Injuries are a common theme at this stage of the season and for Widnes the story is no different.
Although they can call on returning captaincy duo of Jon Clarke and former Hull full-back Shaun Briscoe tomorrow, coach Denis Betts has lost four players from the 17 which was beaten by Leeds last weekend.
The countdown to the end of a first season back in the top flight has long since started for the Vikings, and Betts wants them to find some enthusiasm against the Black and Whites.
"Despite all of the problems we had against Leeds, we showed a real will to do well in the second half,” he said.
"Everybody was massively disappointed with the scoreline, which in some ways is a good thing because it shows how far we have come.
"Our standards have got so much higher of late that it hurts even more when they drop below the expected level of performance. How we respond to this sort of defeat will be the real indication of how far we have come.
"It is going to be a big test and we know it isn't going to be easy with the number of players we have missing but we are playing at home and I want to see that enthusiasm and effort again."