Leeds Rhinos’ boss Brian McDermott still has backing despite Castleford humiliation

Head coach Brian McDermott of Leeds Rhinos
Head coach Brian McDermott of Leeds Rhinos
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THERE WILL be no knee-jerk reaction to Leeds Rhinos’ worst Super League defeat. Chief executive Gary Hetherington described the 66-10 loss at Castleford Tigers as “embarrassing” and admitted everybody at the club is now under pressure.

But he rejected the possibility of signings to strengthen the squad and gave no indication he is considering a change of coach.

The result on Thursday night was Leeds’ biggest margin of defeat in Super League and the most points scored against them since Wigan won 68-14 at Central Park in August, 1996.

“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.

Kallum Watkins is tackled during Leeds Rhinos' defeat to Castleford Tigers.

Kallum Watkins is tackled during Leeds Rhinos' defeat to Castleford Tigers.

“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.”

It was an embarrassing experience for all our fans, players and coaching staff. Everyone in the organisation is now under pressure to react accordingly.

Leeds Rhinos’ chief executive, Gary Hetherington.

McDermott has been coach of Rhinos since 2011, leading them to three Super League Grand Final triumphs, two Challenge Cup wins and the league leaders’ shield - including the treble two years ago.

Rhinos stuck with him last year when Leeds finished ninth and failed to qualify for the play-offs for the first time and it seems that will not change.

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.”

Illness, suspension and injury meant Rhinos faced Tigers without Rob Burrow, Mitch Garbutt, Carl Ablett, Stevie Ward and Jamie Jones-Buchanan from the team which beat Salford six days earlier.

Hetherington said Rhinos’ squad is “strong, given a reasonable number of injuries”, but the loss of so many senior players was a major blow.

“We were already without Brett Ferres and Keith Galloway, so most of our senior leadership group, at this early stage of the season, was sat on the sidelines,” he said.

“It is crucial we get as many of those players back and as quickly as possible. At times like this you are looking to your leadership group, but most of them were unavailable.

“Those who are there have got to step up and take on the challenge, because Super League is such a tough, unforgiving competition.

“That’s a reason rather than an excuse, Cas were exceptional, but even so no Super League team should concede 12 tries - it was desperately disappointing and embarrassing for us all.”

Asked if players could be brought in from other clubs, Hetherington insisted: “At this stage of the season you aren’t going to get somebody who will improve your team unless he’s had a fall out [with his club].”

Meanwhile, Rhinos are back at Castleford today. Their under-16s face Tigers at Castleford Panthers (3pm).