Rhinos already thinking of Manly
Coach Brian McDermott has admitted Leeds Rhinos have one eye on next Friday’s Heinz Big Soup World Club Challenge as they prepare for tomorrow’s Stobart Super League clash with Wigan Warriors.
The champions go to the Carnegie Challenge Cup holders hoping to make it two league wins out of two but also aiming to take some momentum into their showdown with Australian premiers Manly, who arrive in England tomorrow.
“We’re mindful of it,” McDermott said.
“We know we will have to be very good against Manly so we’re using these two games to get as many points as we can and also to try to get some form and momentum. We need to be in good shape for when we play Manly.
“Nobody is getting rested and we’re not holding off. If it was round 25 and it was the Challenge Cup final the week after I might be saying something different but we’ve only just got going.
“We need to build up as much momentum as we can so that we hit Manly with everything we’ve got.”
With a fully-fit group, McDermott has been able to leave out two members of his Grand Final-winning squad and admits the competition for places is providing a huge bonus ahead of the world title clash.
“It’s a massive incentive,” he said.
“Everybody is jittery about who’s going to get what shirt. They know if they don’t attain the standards that we know they can consistently, we’ve got a deep squad.
“That’s a great threat, I can’t motivate like that. You can get motivational speakers in and take them on team-building exercises but you can’t create better motivation than the thought that they’re going to lose that shirt. It’s the biggest motivation ever.”
While the Rhinos began the season with a 24-16 win over Hull KR, Wigan are smarting from a surprise 20-16 home defeat by Huddersfield Giants but McDermott is expecting a difficult test at the DW Stadium.
“I didn’t think Wigan were far off,” he said. “They were a bit ropey but they will be a lot better this week.
“We weren’t happy with what we did last week. We know we’re going to be better.”
Warriors coach Shaun Wane, who is poised to give a debut to 20-year-old prop Tom Spencer after losing George Carmont and Liam Farrell from last week’s team, is confident his players can quickly bounce back.
“It has been a tough couple of days,” he said.
“The players were very hard on themselves, which you would expect.
“But I have got a really strong group mentally. Team spirit is fantastic and I am confident we will see a different performance this weekend.”