Crucial Rhinos make storming start on big stage – McDermott

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Brian McDermott has urged his Leeds Rhinos side to open tonight’s Grand Final with the same gusto that earned them their place at Old Trafford.

The manner in which they tore into Warrington last week was the foundation of their semi-final win and he feels a repeat is required if they are to overcome the favourites.

“The start is always important but especially so in games like this,” said McDermott, who becomes the first English coach to lead a side out on Super League’s biggest night since Bradford Bulls’ Brian Noble in 2005.

“We talked about it last week at Warrington and we managed to start well with Carl Ablett scoring early on.

“It is important for both teams and I’m sure Saints will be looking to make the early ground as well. They are a very good team and I like the way they are playing under Royce Simmons this season; they are an enjoyable team to watch and play the game in the right manner.”

Indeed, there is a lot of mutual respect between the clubs on and off the field.

McDermott added: “I think that the fact that Leeds are playing St Helens in a Grand Final is a good thing for the game.

“Both teams make the right sort of headlines, both have high-profile players who are a credit to our game.

“Importantly, both clubs have a proven track record of developing and playing young, local players and that has been the corner stone upon which the clubs have built their success in recent years.

“For Saints to be in a sixth consecutive Grand Final is an incredible achievement and shows not only the talent they have within their squad but their mental fortitude to make sure they are always in their fighting until the final day of the season.”

McDermott has emerged from a turbulent start to his first season in charge to win over many Leeds fans but he admits the campaign will be deemed a failure if they do not lift the trophy tonight.

“We lost the Challenge Cup final and, should we not get the job done on Saturday, it will be regarded as a disappointing season by me,” he said.

“We won’t have won anything and I have a desire to win something as a coach. A few weeks after the season, you may look back from where we were to where we are now and take some pride from that, but I don’t feel like saying that just yet. We have got a job to do, one more game.”

McDermott is expected to name the same 17 which won at Warrington although Kallum Watkins is pushing for a recall on the biggest stage of all.