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Make or break

Rhinos face an uphill struggle to overcome Warriors, says Stevo

Stevo Posted 30th June 2011 view comments

Leeds are in an unusual situation. There's all sorts of talk and rumours saying that the players and coach aren't getting on, and now the fans are getting irritated because they're not the same as they were.

That's to be expected because you don't win three Grand Finals over the past four years and expect fans to just take it lightly. Brian McDermott has had to fill some pretty large shoes - Tony Smith and Brian McClennan both picked up the Grand Final trophy so the fans, clubs and players have to be a little bit patient.

McDermott: 'Make or break game' as Rhinos take on Warriors

McDermott: 'Make or break game' as Rhinos take on Warriors

They get a brand new coach in and it takes a while for them to adapt. He's obviously wanted to change a few things and the players have to adapt - they have to realise that he's the coach and if he wants them to play in a particular way then you've got to play that way and see what comes of it.

Brian's not a stupid man, he's a fine coach and he realises that come the end of the season if his tactics haven't worked then his job is on the line. He'll be the first to tell you that. But at least give him the opportunity to do things his way.

Wigan are going great guns; to me there are only two teams in the competition at the moment. Brian McDermott has to make sure his side's defence is tip-top, especially out wide.

Stevo
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Another thing is they've been without two of their best players. Jamie Peacock who adds the power up front, was out for a considerable amount of time. It's the same with Danny McGuire. Brent Webb is another player who has had a long-term injury and is slowly getting back to his best. Then Keith Senior gets knocked out.

They've got to pull together and show to themselves that they are still a good side. When you look through their list of players, there are a lot of clubs who would be happy to have that talent on their books. They've got to dig deep and that's not going to be easy at Wigan.

Brian knew what he was walking into. He knew they weren't automatically going to be the same power. But he's a fighter is Brian, don't worry. Leeds have to buckle in and not worry about tactics - the first thing they have to do is get their defence sorted because Wigan will throw the kitchen sink at them. It's going to be difficult.

Extensions

Webb and Kylie Leuluai have just sign contract extensions - that could give them a lift. If you start hearing negatives when you're going through a bad patch, and let's face it Rhinos are, then you think things are going down pretty quickly.

It's a crunch game for Brian and for the players as well. If they don't respond they could be looking down the barrel of a good hiding.

If the Rhinos get hammered I think Leeds will have to say things aren't working. I think the club itself would have to look at things. Maybe they might start thinking we'll have to recruit from overseas for next year.

When you're talking about a big club like Leeds, they don't want to be knocking around sixth, seventh or eighth. It's on the cards that they could miss out on the top four but if the likes of Hull and Hull KR pick things up then they could be out of the top eight.

I don't think that will happen because they've got too many good players but they've all got to get together as a unit. Brian expects everyone to give their best - then they've got something to work on. He's a strong man with a strong will - he wasn't in the army for nothing - but he's the type of man who will certainly hold his hand up and say it's not working.

This is probably the biggest game in his career. The pressure is on. The media are on his back and the fans are definitely are on his back - there's only one more step and that's when the club gets on your back.

Over the past few weeks Wigan's dominance has come in the first 15-20 minutes of games. Michael Maguire has realised as a coach that the linking ability of Brett Finch and Paul Deacon is far more subtle and developed than using Thomas Leuluai. So that's why he puts Leuluai as a hooker and it's no coincidence that when he starts there, they blitz opponents for the first 20. It's a smart move.

Wigan are going great guns; to me there are only two teams in the competition at the moment. Brian McDermott has to make sure his side's defence is tip-top, especially out wide.

KEY MAN: Brent Webb has just signed a new contract and that could be a big boost to the Rhinos. He's going to play a key role if Leeds are going to stop the Warriors.

STEVO SAYS: I reckon Wigan are going to win and a lot of people are saying it will be by a big margin - I don't think it will be though as I expect Leeds to come out fighting.

Comments (4)

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Jay Jay says...

i expect a good 1st half then mac half time team talk to do what it as all year and the rhinos come out and get hammered!!!!

Posted 09:25 1st July 2011

Lee Wall says...

"This isn't going to sit with some people, but we're not going there for a win; we're going to play well," "The reality is, with some of the personnel we've got, if they play well the result more or less takes care of itself." You're right Brian, it does not sit with me for a start. It is simply wrong to imply that there is such a gulf between Leeds and Wigan's players that we have no chance if Wigan are on form and sounds like you are blind to your own failings. Whilst I accept our squad could do with some freshening up it is still a very good set of players who are clearly uncomfortable with the breakneck style of rugby you are persisting with. It is ridiculous to suggest you are handicapped by the players you are working with, the majority of the blame has to be down to your tactics. You may be trying to play the cold hard realist, but I'm going to the game tonight and know that our players on form can beat Wigan, quite what you hope to achieve by saying it's a lost cause I don't know. If you are trying to relieve the pressure on yourself then that's understandable in a way, but it's not good for the team and weak management.

Posted 01:32 1st July 2011

Leigh Richardson says...

i think leeds will come out fighting and bursting with pride but after 5 mins i expect wigan to break through and run away with it, only joking i'll go for wigan 28 leeds 10, cheers

Posted 20:43 30th June 2011

Liam Pemberton says...

Stevo, I'm shocked by what I've just read. I your piece you have called for Leeds Rhino's to sign overseas players to help bring them back to the greatness they have shown in recent years. This statement is completely contradictory to everything you say each week about bringing young local players through the ranks and building for the future. We were told that the license structure for the Super League was to help teams build for the long term without fear of relegation. Leeds are no where near the bottom of the table but you say they should think about recruiting from overseas which I believe goes against the ethos of the Super League License structure and everything you preach with regards to the British game. Surely Leeds must accept that currently, they are below par but they have time in which to bring some new talent through which will benefit them, the british game and the national team.

Posted 17:51 30th June 2011

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