Leeds chief backing McDermott to cope with pressure

Leeds Rhinos head coach Brian McDermott.
Leeds Rhinos head coach Brian McDermott.
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THE PRESSURE is on Leeds Rhinos following their “embarrassing” defeat at Castleford Tigers, but chief executive Gary Hetherington insists coach Brian McDermott is strong enough to cope.

Hetherington has given no indication of a change behind the scenes despite Leeds’s 66-10 loss two days ago, which was their biggest margin of defeat in Super League. It was the most points conceded by Leeds since Wigan scored 68 against them in September, 1996 and Hetherington admitted their fifth successive defeat by Castleford was tough to take.

“No Super League team should concede 12 tries,” Hetherington said.

“It was an embarrassing experience for all our fans, players and coaching staff.

“Without taking anything away from Castleford, who were very good and have been so far this season, we were really poor from start to finish.

“We didn’t compete in any phase of the game.”

Hetherington added: “We had a shocking week with senior players dropping out of the team leading up to the game, but those who did play could have and should have done better. It was a significant defeat which we need to reflect on, then bounce back for next Friday against Catalans Dragons. At this early stage of the season everyone in the organisation is now under pressure to react accordingly.”

Leeds finished ninth last year and have lost two of their four games so far in 2017. Pressed about McDermott’s future, Hetherington said: “There is constant pressure on the coaching staff and all the players and that’s why you have to employ people who can manage that and do their job well. Brian McDermott has always been strong at times of adversity.

“Not many coaches could have got through last year. He showed his strength through a long period of time and we need our senior players to be strong – and to be back on the field as soon as possible.”

Leeds were without five players from the team which beat Salford six days earlier, due to illness, injury or suspension, but the Leeds chief said: “That is a reason rather than an excuse. Cas were exceptional.”