Dethroned Leeds aim to pick up silverware

Leeds Rhinos coach Brian McDermott.
Leeds Rhinos coach Brian McDermott.
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LEEDS Rhinos coach Brian McDermott admits there will be no need for motivational speeches as his squad seek to get back in the hunt for trophies.

They have been Super League champions in six of the last eight seasons but are dethroned as they start the new campaign at Hull KR tomorrow.

Though the majority of his squad have enjoyed numerous successes, he insists the hunger is still there to achieve more.

“I don’t have to say too much at this stage of the year,” he insisted, Leeds having finished third last season but failing to get to either Wembley or Old Trafford.

“We have got a few things going on at the moment.

“Last season, coming relatively close and yet not making a final is something that’s not lost on us.

“We would like to get that right. Competition for places this year is well documented, with the addition of Tom Briscoe and Paul Aiton.

“That has had an effect on the make-up of the squad and what that’s going to look like and it is the start of the year as well, so there’s a few different factors why the players are pretty motivated at the moment.”

England second-row Jamie Jones-Buchanan and long-serving prop Ian Kirke are the only notable absentees from his 19-man squad for tomorrow.

Briscoe and Aiton are both set to debut while young second-row Stevie Ward is ready for his first Super League game since injuring his shoulder on the same ground last April.

Leeds do, traditionally, struggle at Craven Park – now known as KC Lightstream Stadium – and McDermott admitted: “It is not the worst ground in the world.

“The weather has a bearing on how good it is to play there, but we’re not too concerned about that.

“I dare say it is going to be cold and wet and the changing rooms are not big enough, but we know that and we’ve been going there for a few years.

“That won’t change and we will just get on with it.”

Leeds supporters travelling without a ticket have been warned they will not gain access to the ground tomorrow as all the away allocation has sold out.