LEEDS Rhinos coach Brian McDermott insists the loss of Danny McGuire will not derail their attempt to claim a Grand Final spot tonight.
He readily accepts the importance of his England scrum-half, who sits out their play-off at Wigan due to a one-match ban, and the statistics prove the defending Super League champions are worse off without him.
As they head to the League Leaders’ Shield winners, Leeds know they have won just two of the 10 games McGuire has missed this season.
McDermott said: “There’s no getting away from the fact that losing Danny McGuire is a big loss for us.
“It would be for any team in the competition to lose Super League’s best-ever try scorer.
“But the players were aware on Tuesday night that Danny was suspended and from Wednesday morning we have come in focused on playing Wigan on Friday night without him.
“We have a couple of options we can look at and we have trained with both of those scenarios this week. It is unfortunate that he has been ruled out but we are a strong group and we go over to Wigan determined to get the job done.”
McDermott believes his side’s best display of the season came a week ago with their epic play-off win in Perpignan.
He has experienced prop Kylie Leuluai back for this one but insists they must raise the bar again.
“If we’re going to get through to the Grand Final we needed a tough route,” he admitted.
“We haven’t been in great shakes. For periods this year we’ve been very, very good and very strong but then there’s some shaky periods too.
“Everyone held their nerve in Catalan and it was probably just what we needed for us to have any confidence about going to this next stage.
“We needed to have something like that under our belts and it puts us in good stead for this but we’ll need our best performance again 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. It’s just a shame that the best players aren’t there.”
Wigan – who chose Rhinos through ClubCall and are benefiting from a week off after beating Catalan on the opening play-off weekend – have recorded a league double over Leeds this season but are still smarting from their Challenge Cup semi-final exit at the Rhinos’ hands.