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Headingley Insight: Leeds v Widnes

In this weeks edition of Headingley Carnegie Insight, Leeds Rhinos Head Coach Brian McDermott looks ahead to Sunday's trip to Widnes.
Headingley Insight: Leeds v Widnes

In this weeks edition of Headingley Carnegie Insight, Leeds Rhinos Head Coach Brian McDermott looks ahead to Sunday's trip to Widnes.

What kind of test do you expect from Widnes Vikings?

I think it will be a big test for us for a number of reasons. Widnes’ confidence will be high after their performance last week at Bradford. Denis Betts spoke about how they felt they could have beaten us at Headingley Carnegie less than a fortnight ago and I am sure they will want to put those lessons into practise on Sunday. Likewise, we have obviously lost a few people from that game which I am sure will give them an extra spring in their step to overturn the last result. They gave us a tough test at Headingley Carnegie and we needed to dig deep in the second half to get the win. As they showed in that game, they can punish you if you give them the chance with people like Rhys Hanbury and Joe Mellor in their side and we will be wary of that.

What's the mood like in the camp following the loss to Huddersfield?

Having reviewed the game this week, there are lots of positives we can take from the game although no one is ever happy with a defeat. Our young players will have learnt from valuable lessons from the experience and we pushed a very strong Huddersfield outfit all the way.

What's the very latest on the injury crisis?

We have lost Jamie Jones-Buchanan for twelve weeks with a knee injury and scans have also revealed that Kylie Leuluai will miss the next three games so there is no let up in the injury concerns. Thankfully we have got Joel Moon back from suspension this week and Kallum Watkins is pressing really hard to come back ahead of schedule. Our physio Andy Barker and Kallum have done a great job to get him right and if he is not right for Widnes, he should be available the following week.

Do you feel the young players are benefitting from this run in the side?

I think the experience of playing in Super League can only help our young players. A lot of credit for how they have managed the step up must go to our Head of Youth Development Barrie McDermott, his team and the systems he has put in place below the first team. Richard Hunwicks and Ben Jones do a great job on the conditioning front to get the younger guys up to speed, under the direction of Jason Davidson, and they know what is expected of them when they come up to the Super League squad.

However, the work begins even before that with these young men with the great coaching we have at amateur level here in Leeds, that continues through the scholarship programme with first teamers like Rob Burrow, Jamie Jones-Buchanan, Jamie Peacock and Carl Ablett giving up their time to educate the next generation of players before they come into our senior system in the Under 19s with Chris Plume. Every step is a vital part of preparing a player for Super League and it is rewarding to see when that results in the performances we are seeing from the likes of Liam Sutcliffe.


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