McDermott: Leeds can win without McGuire
27th September 2012
Leeds Rhinos coach Brian McDermott is convinced his side can overcome the absence of Danny McGuire to knock out title favourites Wigan Warriors in their Stobart Super League semi-final at the DW Stadium.
The defending champions have been dealt a body blow with the loss of Super League’s all-time leading try-scorer through suspension and, although they have won just two of 10 matches in his absence this year, McDermott insists they are no one-man team.
“He’s one of the best players in Super League so take him out of the team and it’s hard,” McDermott said.
“But I don’t think it was going to come down to a try from one player or a play from one player. That may be a result of a massive team effort.
“We’re ready for it, know what’s in front of us. Our focus will be on doing our job right and making sure we produce our best performance of the season over there because that is what it will take to have a chance of beating Wigan.
“For that reason, I think this is going to be one of the best games of the season and it’s just a shame that the best players aren’t there.”
At least Leeds can call on the services of prop forward Kylie Leuluai, who sat out last Friday’s play-off win over Catalan Dragons in Perpignan through suspension.
He will be back to face his cousin, scrum-half Thomas Leuluai, who was absent with a broken leg when the Rhinos pulled off a surprise 39-28 win over Wigan in the semi-finals of the Challenge Cup in July.
That defeat still rankles with Warriors coach Shaun Wane, who was delighted to be able to select Leeds as his semi-final opponents under the Clubcall system.
Revenge will clearly provide additional motivation for the 2010 champions, who can still remember the Rhinos’ play-off win at the DW Stadium two years ago.
Wigan completed the league double over the Yorkshiremen this year but that was before the Rhinos’ familiar late-season surge that has brought back vivid memories of their tremendous run from fifth place all the way to Old Trafford glory in 2011.
“This is a team of winners,” McDermott added. “They want to win every time they set foot on the pitch.
“Sometimes this year we haven’t got it right in games and at times we haven’t been good enough.
“But at times we have been sensational and at this time of the year the pressure begins to mount. Our players know what it takes to get themselves over the finish line.
“Physically, we have a group who have the usual challenges at this time of year but mentally we are fresh and ready to go.
“As a group we are keen and we are excited because we are 80 minutes away from a Grand Final and we will leave nothing in the tank come Friday night. If that is enough to get us there, only time will tell.”
Leeds will be playing their 36th match of the season, more than any other team in the league, but Wane is wary of a side that won so impressively in Perpignan just six days ago.
“That’s a tough place to go and they did it without their main front row in Kylie Leuluai,” said Wane, whose side had the luxury of a week off after winning their opening qualifying tie.
“I thought Jamie Peacock was outstanding, it was a great win for them. I enjoyed the game. It will put them in a good place before they play us.
“But the week off has given me the chance to rest a few players. We had a few knocks and bruises and we’ve got over them.”
Wane is set to recall England second rower Gareth Hock after he sat out his side’s opening play-off win over the Catalans with a leg injury, but he is still without hooker Michael McIlorum, who remains suspended.