Leeds Rhinos are ready to throw down Magic Weekend marker

Brian McDermott: Rhinos coach spent some time in Newcastle while in the military.
Brian McDermott: Rhinos coach spent some time in Newcastle while in the military.
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LEEDS RHINOS’ coach Brian McDermott has urged the Super League leaders to use Magic Weekend as a chance to showcase what they are truly capable of to the entire competition.

The West Yorkshire club arrested a three-match losing run by emphatically defeating Huddersfield Giants in the Challenge Cup and then by beating Hull KR 36-16 at Headingley.

Leeds face Wigan Warriors to end the first day’s action in Newcastle tomorrow knowing their opponents will narrow their lead at the top to just two points if Rhinos are off colour.

“It will be a close, tight game,” predicted McDermott, with Wigan having defeated them on the last two occasions at Magic.

“I don’t think it’ll be a runaway for either team or one will have too much ascendancy throughout the game.

“And I think, while it’s not a final as such, it is an occasion and everyone wants to show up well. We’re pretty much performing in front of the rest of the league, too, which is always an incentive for people to play their best game.”

Wigan endured a surprise 
58-16 defeat in Perpignan on Saturday but before that won five successive league games and, remarkably, kept their opponents pointless in three of them.

McDermott added: “I’m sure Wigan will be determined this week and have that level of anger that they are carrying around with them. But, though we are in a reasonable position, we’re not flying at the moment.

“In periods against Giants we were very good but one swallow doesn’t make a summer does it?

“Against KR, we were all surprised at how focused they were. Not that we took them lightly to any degree but they came out and had a real determination about them for that first 30 minutes.

“We’re not exactly where we need to be at the moment but we are a bit better than where we were a month ago.”

McDermott, meanwhile, is a fan of taking Magic Weekend to Newcastle for its maiden appearance there.

“I spent some time in Newcastle when I was in the military as all my friends were from there,” he explained.

“It would surprise you how keen they are for it – some of that north-east mentality suits rugby league and it is a vibrant following in Newcastle.”