Final will not prove a distraction to Rhinos’ Super League defence

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Leeds Rhinos coach Brian McDermott believes Bradford Bulls’ off-field problems have made them a far more threatening proposition.

Amid all the financial meltdown at Odsal – they have been in administration since last month but yesterday a consortium finally made a firm bid – Bradford have actually pieced together a three-game winning run.

They will bid to extend that at Headingley Carnegie this evening when Mick Potter’s team know they could also displace champions Leeds from fifth spot.

McDermott admitted: “You have to take your hat off to their players for the attitude they have shown in games amid all the troubles at Odsal.

“They are a dangerous side because they appear to be playing without the fear of consequences; they are chancing their arm and playing with a lot of style.

“If they lost games and were getting hammered, I think most people would expect that.

“But they’ve decided collectively they can only control what happens for that 80 minutes each week and are making the most of their chance to control events.”

Leeds found that to their cost when they lost at Bradford on Good Friday, their rivals knowing then they had to raise £500,000 to stave off going bust.

McDermott saw his men atone for that defeat with a 37-22 victory over Bradford at Magic Weekend in May amid sweltering conditions but that result still “rankles” with the Leeds chief.

“It was a horrible game in horrible conditions and I don’t want to see a game played like that too often,” he offered.

Leeds lost heavily to Wigan and Warrington in subsequent weekends but have recovered to show some of their form of old, highlighted by a brilliant Challenge Cup semi-final success over Wigan on Saturday.

That sets up a Wembley showdown with Warrington Wolves at the end of next month but McDermott insists it will not blur their view of defending their Super League title.

“Because of the position we are in in Super League, we can not afford to take our eye off the ball in that,” he said, with Carl Ablett (hamstring) ruled out tonight.

“Plenty of people have asked me this week if Wembley will be a distraction for us and I honestly do not believe it will.”