LEEDS RHINOS head coach Brian McDermott has admitted he tried to sign Stefan Ratchford, the Warrington Wolves playmaker whom he sees as a major threat to his side tonight.
Leeds are looking to quickly back-up Sunday’s 34-6 win at Hull KR with victory over last season’s beaten Grand Finalists at Headingley.
Warrington were vanquished 38-8 at home by St Helens in their opener, which immediately had naysayers arguing Tony Smith’s side will be lost without the departed and vastly-experienced trio of Lee Briers, Adrian Morley and Brett Hodgson. But McDermott believes that is folly and with Ratchford – the gifted 25-year-old who is equally at home at stand-off, centre or full-back – he feels they will always pose a threat.
“Warrington have a strong backline, still have a formidable enough pack and I really rate Stefan Ratchford,” he said.
“I think he’s a fantastic player. He’s developed a hell of a lot since going to Warrington.
“He had a good, strong running game anyway when he was at Salford and I always fancied him.
“I tried to get him at London (Harlequins) actually.
“I talked to his agent about the possible chances of him coming down there.
“But he’s fitted into what Warrington do well and Smithy has done a good job with him. He’s created someone who was just a runner into a genuine pivotal player.”
McDermott is expecting a familiar form of battle with tonight’s visitors.
“If they had beat St Helens convincingly last week they’d be very good this week,” he said.
“The fact they’ve come off the back of a bit of an indifferent performance it’s still the same; they are in round two, against us at our place and they will always be good, so we’re preparing for the best of Warrington.”
McDermott says second-row Stevie Ward is “likely to feature” for the first time since injuring his shoulder at Hull Kingston Rovers last April, with Luke Sutcliffe having dropped out of the Rhinos’ squad.