McDermott unhappy with Wane
Leeds Rhinos have accepted Danny McGuire’s one-match ban but coach Brian McDermott has accused his Wigan Warriors counterpart Shaun Wane of influencing the disciplinary hearing.
McGuire will miss Friday’s play-off semi-final against Wigan after being found guilty of a reckless high tackle during the defending champions’ 27-20 win over Catalan Dragons in Perpignan last Friday.
McDermott, who claimed it was a careless challenge by his player, said the club had decided against lodging an appeal after receiving a fair hearing from the three-man committee chaired by high court judge Peter Charlesworth.
But he believes comments by Wane, in which he compared the incident to a tackle that earned Wigan hooker Michael McIlorum a three-match ban, were out of order.
“We considered an appeal,” he said. “There was a bit of merit in doing that.
“But we thought they gave us a fair hearing. Sometimes you come out thinking you might as well have not turned up but, in fairness to the panel, they listened.
“I felt we put up a good case and I think it went as well as it could have done.
“If we did anything, we probably got it down from a two-game ban to one game.
“Unfortunately, with what’s been said in the media building up to it, it would have been a tough call to not ban him.
“I’m just not sure that in any legal case you’d be allowed to say what you want in the media building up to it.
“When I talk about other clubs’ players, I talk about how good they are and things like that.”
McDermott also believes the verdict could have serious repercussions for the game, with players fearful of going wholeheartedly into tackles in case they result in a fine and a ban.
The former Bradford Bulls and Great Britain forward believes the verdicts are formed by the Rugby Football League’s match-review panel which scrutinise incidents every Monday, with the disciplinary committee effectively acting as an appeals panel.
“I just think that, at the moment, once you enter that room, you are guilty,” he said.
“The review panel have been given a set of guidelines and I’d like to talk to the people who run the game. What do they want our game to look like?
“At the moment, players are concerned about going into collisions in case they get it slight wrong.
“That’s scary for our game. The beauty of our game is that usually, if you run harder and tackle harder than the opposition, you win the game.
“Now, if you run hard and tackle, you worry about getting a ban.
“Maggsy gets run at every single week by teams that try to exhaust the leading tryscorer in Super League.
“Because of that, Maggsy has to be aggressive and sometimes he gets it wrong. He hasn’t the best tackle technique in the world and never has had but he is tenacious and competitive and sometimes that goes wrong.
“To judge him on one error, saying you got that wrong and it’s a one-game ban, is very harsh.
“It’s too clinical and I think if we carry on with this philosophy, players are going to start coming to coaches and say I can’t afford to tackle hard.”
McDermott admitted that the club were deterred from making an appeal in case a different panel opted to impose a two-match ban, the maximum allowed for a grade B offence.
“Should we be good enough to beat Wigan and get through to the Grand Final, we obviously get Maggsy back,” he said.
However, Leeds have lost eight of the 10 matches McGuire has missed this year through injury and suspension and McDermott admits the absence of Super League’s all-time leading tryscorer is a major blow.
“It is difficult to win without him,” he said. “He’s been in sensational form this year.
“We’ll miss him because he makes other people play well but we have to find it from somewhere else and we’re determined to do that.
“After the hearing, we pretty much started planning without him. All the players knew straight away, their minds were turning to ’let’s crack on without him and make it a team effort’.”
McDermott has the option of switching Rob Burrow to his old scrum-half role and starting with Shaun Lunt at hooker or reverting to his Challenge Cup final line-up, with 18-year-old Stevie Ward partnering Kevin Sinfield at half-back.
“We’ve got a couple of options and we’ve practised with both,” McDermott said. “We’ll analyse that tomorrow.”