McDermott wary of Giants threat
Leeds Rhinos coach Brian McDermott is warning his team not to underestimate struggling Huddersfield Giants as the reigning Stobart Super League champions look to repeat their heroics of 2011.
The Rhinos rounded off last year’s regular season with a 31-24 triumph over the Giants at the John Smith’s Stadium before going on to win the Grand Final, claiming victory again at Huddersfield along the way.
The Giants have limped into the play-offs after gaining just three wins in the second half of the season but they won 22-12 at Headingley Carnegie earlier in the year and McDermott believes they could pose a danger in the play-offs.
“They showed earlier this season that they are a quality outfit with very talented players and I am sure they will see the start of the play-offs as a chance to wipe the slate clean and try to get back to that type of form,” he said.
“They beat us at Headingley Carnegie earlier this season so we know how good they can be and we won’t lack for motivation come Sunday.”
The Challenge Cup runners-up have drafted in hooker Liam Hood in the absence of Shaun Lunt, who cannot play as part of his loan agreement with the Giants.
“It is a shame for Shaun as he has been playing well and has adjusted well to our systems,” McDermott said.
Huddersfield coach Paul Anderson, who has enjoyed two wins in his six matches since succeeding Nathan Brown, is hoping his side can quickly bounce back from their 54-6 hammering at Cup-winners Warrington Wolves.
“We have now drawn a line in the sand and we’ve moved on,” he said. “We know we need to compete harder for longer, starting against Leeds Rhinos.
“Leeds are arguably the most consistently successful team over the past few years.
“They may have lost in the Challenge Cup final but they produced an extremely professional performance against Salford City Reds last weekend.”
Warrington’s assistant coach Richard Marshall is urging his side not to take their eye off the ball as they take on neighbours Widnes Vikings at the Stobart Stadium.
The Wolves have already beaten the Vikings twice this year and Marshall says another impressive show tomorrow is important as they build towards next Saturday’s play-off derby with St Helens.
“Widnes have stuck to the structures and have been really true to themselves,” Marshall said. “They’ve really worked hard and have improved.
“In their last home game they put 40-plus past Hull which is no mean feat so they’ll be in a confident mood and it’s important that we go there with the right attitude and put a team out that can perform and get themselves into form for the following week.”
Widnes have won five home games in their first season back in the top flight and coach Denis Betts is hoping his improving side can reward their loyal fans with another notable scalp in their final match.
“Our members and supporters have been absolutely massive for us throughout the season, not just at home but also when we’ve been on our travels, and we’ve not delivered as much as I’d like us to have done and sent them home disappointed,” he said.
“Here at the Stobart Stadium, apart from the Salford and Bradford games, I think they’ve had really good value from the players and fully appreciate what they have witnessed.
“It should be a cracking game on Sunday and a real tough test for us. If anything, the i-pitch should really suit the fast, top-of-the-ground rugby that Warrington like to play.
“If our fans turn up in large numbers and give the lads one last big effort, I know it will give us a massive lift.”