Leeds coach Brian McDermott says that his team can win the Grand Final this year, despite being “kicked in the nuts” with a record Super League defeat for the club at Castleford in Round Three.
The Rhinos were quick to turn things around after their 66-10 loss at their arch local rivals, running in seven tries against Catalans to emerge 46-10 winners on Friday night.
“I believe we can win the Grand Final and I believed it last week,” said McDermott, after his team put up what was unquestionably their best performance so far this season.
“I was going to make a big statement last week and Phil (Daly) told me to wind my neck in. Experience tells you that sometimes you’ve got to be kicked in the nuts to find out the best of you and last week we got a certain amount of bruising around our groin area!”
“This tonight doesn’t write off last week. It still hurts. We are still embarrassed by it. I’ve got the best job in the game and part of that best job in the game is dealing with the losses.
“When we lose everybody cheers and when we win it’s oh Leeds should win. It throws up some real challenges and tonight was a good night but we’ve got to knock about another 10 versions of tonight together over the next few weeks.”
Meanwhile, there was relief for Super League’s all-time record tryscorer Danny McGuire. The Leeds skipper, whose 2016 season was torn apart by injury, scored his first competitive try since the 2015 Grand Final and said “It’s a bit of a relief. It’s good to get over the whitewash and I was really pleased with the collective effort from the boys.”
Having been one of many Rhinos to receive some criticism a week earlier, McGuire admits that getting back to proper match sharpness has taken a bit of time, though he feels that he has turned a corner. “I am starting to feel good and get my confidence back. It doesn’t matter how many games you have played it takes a while to find your feet after you’ve been out for a while.
“Even though we scored over 40 points I think it was our defence that won it tonight. We weren’t good enough last week but if you don’t turn up defensively against Catalan and meet them head on you get steamrolled and our middle boys did really well tonight.”