McDermott eyes Rhinos tunaround
Leeds Rhinos coach Brian McDermott says the champions will revert to a siege mentality as they look to get their ailing season back on track.
The Rhinos' hopes of completing a rare double have been dashed following their exit from the Challenge Cup while three consecutive Super League defeats have cost them any hope of catching leaders Wigan Warriors.
They will look to stop the rot against Daryl Powell's Castleford Tigers in tomorrow's derby at Headingley and McDermott, who has guided the Rhinos to Grand-Final glory from fifth place in each of the last two years, insists now is not the time to panic.
"Clearly we are disappointed by the results in recent weeks because we haven't got the wins we set out to achieve," he said. "However, this is a determined bunch of players and they will stick together. We are not going to panic and start listening to those outside of our bubble.
"The answers to our challenges are within our group and we will continue to work hard. When we reflect on our recent performances, we have produced strong passages of play but we have been inconsistent and our challenge is now to get back to the standards we set ourselves earlier in the season."
Leeds' cause is not helped by the loss of England backs Danny McGuire, who will have a plate inserted in his broken leg tomorrow, and Kallum Watkins, who is due to have a further scan to ascertain the extent of his ankle-ligament damage.
They join Jamie Peacock, Carl Ablett, Stevie Ward and Ben Jones-Bishop on the sidelines and could prompt Leeds to give a debut to 18-year-old centre Thomas Minns against the Tigers.
McDermott gave a Super League bow to another teenager, Liam Sutcliffe, last month and believes Minns deserves his chance.
"Thomas has been performing well in the Under-19s along with the likes of Liam Sutcliffe and Jordan Baldwinson and now is a good time for him to be more involved with the senior players, having completed his college studies," McDermott said.
Wigan are also set to give youth a fling against Widnes Vikings at the Halton Stadium tomorrow.
Lewis Tierney, the oldest son of former Warriors legend Jason Robinson, will get the chance to deputise for full-back Sam Tomkins, who has been ruled out with an Achilles injury, while stand-off Ryan Hampshire, also 18, replaces Matty Smith.
The league leaders are in the middle of an injury crisis, with Liam Farrell, Blake Green, Sean O'Loughlin, Michael McIlorum, Gil Dudson, Ben Flower and Pat Richards also ruled out, but coach Shaun Wane is determined to look on the bright side.
"Lewis and Ryan are good, smart kids and I am looking forward to seeing them play," he said. "I obviously don't want Sam and the others to be injured but it is a positive negative for me."
Hull KR take on Huddersfield Giants in Friday night's other game.