Rhinos aware Wolves remain dangerous prey

Leeds Rhinos coach Brian McDermott.
Leeds Rhinos coach Brian McDermott.
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LEEDS RHINOS coach Brian McDermott says he has never been conned into thinking Warrington Wolves are a spent force.

The Super League leaders head to Cheshire tonight to face opponents who have found some form after a difficult start to the season.

Warrington, beaten Grand Finalists in each of the last two years, initially found it tough without the likes of retired duo Lee Briers and Brett Hodgson.

They have lost almost half of their games so far, a statistic that prompted many to suggest the side ex-Leeds coach Tony Smith built, which had lifted the Challenge Cup three times recently, was on the wane.

However, though they remain seven points adrift of tonight’s visitors, they have strung together consecutive wins over Catalan, St Helens and Wakefield Trinity, averaging almost 40 points per game, to hint at revival.

“Warrington are on that curve of improvement,” admitted McDermott.

“They’re gathering momentum and that can be dangerous – a team with wind in their sails after a period of struggle.

“I, nor anyone here, has been lulled into thinking Warrington have gone for this year. That’s never happened.

“They’ll be in the mix at the end of the year in both competitions. It’ll be a big game and a big start is going to be important for us. I’m sure they’ll be brimming with confidence and be as keen.”

Leeds are not short of confidence themselves, enjoying their most prolonged consistency yet in McDermott’s reign, now into its fourth year.

Although they won the title in 2011 and again 12 months later, the West Yorkshire club did so from fifth.

He believes their greater winning ratio now is down to “a few things starting to bear fruit after a period of time” more than any eureka moment while competition is strong, Stevie Ward and Ryan Bailey both missing out in a game that marks Kylie Leuluai’s 200th Super League appearance.