McDermott highlights Catalan threat
Leeds Rhinos coach Brian McDermott sees Catalan Dragons as one of the major contenders for his side’s Stobart Super League crown, but will be hoping to dent their hopes at Headingley tonight.
The Perpignan outfit can draw level with leaders Huddersfield Giants if they pull off a first win at Headingley and McDermott admits they look the real deal this year.
“They are definite Challenge Cup and Grand Final contenders,” he said.
“Obviously they are a threat to any team on their own patch, such is the reputation they have built up down there in Perpignan, but they are adding to that now with some consistent form away from home.
“I think they’re a well-balanced team. I think both Leon Pryce and Scott Dureau are giving them some really well-balanced attack.
“Clint Greenshields at the back is as good as he’s been for a while and Ian Henderson at dummy half poses some problems.
“They’ve a real hard-working pack for them that I’ve not seen for the last three or four seasons, since Mick Potter left.
“They’re a very good team so it’s a big challenge and one we’re looking forward to.”
The Dragons, who have lost on all seven previous visits to Leeds, have stayed in England since defeating Hull KR in the Carnegie Challenge Cup last Sunday and coach Trent Robinson hopes that can help them break their Headingley duck.
The last time they set up camp in the north of England, Robinson’s men followed up a first win at Warrington Wolves with an equally momentous victory over Wigan Warriors at the DW Stadium last April.
“It doesn’t hurt,” said Robinson. “I would have preferred a longer turnaround but there are benefits for us staying here.
“I’m pretty proud of the bond within the group but you can’t take it for granted.”
In tonight’s other game, bottom club Widnes Vikings will be seeking their first Super League victory over St Helens, six days after losing 40-38 to them in the Challenge Cup.
Saints have won 13 league games in a row since the Vikings triumphed 20-17 in the Stones Bitter Championship in April 1994, but Widnes coach Denis Betts believes his side can avenge their Cup defeat.
“I don’t think it’s ideal playing them again so soon but I think we can stop them playing as well as they did,” he said.
“It comes down to what happens on the night and showing discipline and desire to put your body in the way.”