Barrie McDermott: Leeds Rhinos’ next head coach appointment their biggest in Super League | Rugby League News

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Barrie McDermott

Rugby League Expert & Columnist @RLBarrieMc10

Sky Sports rugby league expert and former Leeds player Barrie McDermott shares his views on his old club’s early struggles in 2022 ahead of the 26-0 defeat to St Helens in the Betfred Super League

Last Updated: 02/04/22 4:43pm

Leeds' players look on dejected as they are nilled against St Helens

Leeds’ players look on dejected as they are nilled against St Helens

Barrie McDermott believes Leeds Rhinos face the most important head coach decision in their Betfred Super League history as the search for Richard Agar’s replacement continues.

Agar stepped down from the role two weeks ago after nearly three years in charge following a difficult start to the 2022 season for the Rhinos, with his assistant and former Leeds player Jamie Jones-Buchanan taking charge on an interim basis.

Since then, Leeds have been eliminated from the Betfred Challenge Cup by Castleford Tigers and on Friday suffered a 26-0 defeat to St Helens at Headingley live on Sky Sports which condemned them to a fifth-straight home defeat – the worst start at home to a season in the club’s history.

Speaking ahead of the clash with Saints, Sky Sports rugby league expert and Rhinos Hall of Fame member McDermott expressed his concern and spoke of how important he feels the choice of new head coach is.

“It’s been a disaster, hasn’t it?” McDermott told Sky Sports. “I’ve been like everybody else, watching out for a team which should have been competing and for which a top-four finish would have been a realistic end and goal for them to go at.

“But they’re in big trouble now, there’s no doubt about that. They’re missing key players and missing the spirit of the Rhinos and they’re missing a leader, be it a coach or an on-field leader to guide them around.

“Super League has not been without its bumps for Leeds Rhinos, but this is as bad as I can remember it. The two half-backs aren’t firing, they look low on confidence and the leader they need in terms of that coach isn’t there.

Sky Sports assess the current plight facing Leeds as fans ponder the big question - where will they go from here? Rhinos' interim head coach Jamie Jones-Buchanan joins the discussion.

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Sky Sports assess the current plight facing Leeds as fans ponder the big question – where will they go from here? Rhinos’ interim head coach Jamie Jones-Buchanan joins the discussion.

Sky Sports assess the current plight facing Leeds as fans ponder the big question – where will they go from here? Rhinos’ interim head coach Jamie Jones-Buchanan joins the discussion.

“It’s the biggest coaching appointment in Super League history for the Leeds Rhinos.”

McDermott, who played for Leeds from 1995 to 2005, wants to see Jones-Buchanan remain part of the coaching set-up at the Rhinos and would like to see Danny McGuire, currently assistant to ex-Rhinos head coach Tony Smith at Hull Kingston Rovers, involved too.

The Super League Grand Final and Challenge Cup winner also advocated for the return of Brian McDermott, currently in charge of Betfred Championship high-flyers Featherstone Rovers, in the head coach role after he guided Leeds to four Grand Final wins between 2011 and 2018.

“You don’t need to reinvent the wheel, but what you can do is maybe bring that forward into the people who are at the club now,” McDermott said.

Highlights of the Betfred Super League match between Leeds Rhinos and St Helens.

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Highlights of the Betfred Super League match between Leeds Rhinos and St Helens.

Highlights of the Betfred Super League match between Leeds Rhinos and St Helens.

“Jonesy is a cultural architect. If you brought in Danny McGuire, he would force change and embrace it, and Brian McDermott would spearhead that – that would be my trio.

“I’m looking at some of those senior players now, thinking they need to show leadership. Not just on the field, but how they conduct themselves, how they train and the example they set for those younger players.”

Jones-Buchanan: I was encouraged by some of what I saw

Leeds are now second from bottom after losing for the sixth time in Super League this season, but interim boss Jones-Buchanan was encouraged by their performance in the defeat to St Helens.

“It was a tough result,” the seven-time Grand Final winner said. “Since the age of four, I could never get my head around teachers and coaches talking about performance, it was always about the win for me, but this week I got it.

Jamie Jones-Buchanan reflects on Leeds Rhinos' 26-0 defeat at home to St Helens in the Betfred Super League

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Jamie Jones-Buchanan reflects on Leeds Rhinos’ 26-0 defeat at home to St Helens in the Betfred Super League

Jamie Jones-Buchanan reflects on Leeds Rhinos’ 26-0 defeat at home to St Helens in the Betfred Super League

“I was desperate for a performance or certainly a response and we got signs of it. 26-0 is never going to be good enough for Leeds Rhinos at home but I just feel there are some of the building blocks, I was encouraged by some of what I saw.

“I know St Helens were missing some high-quality players but you add [Leeds players] David Fusitu’a, Harry Newman, Richie Myler, Zane Tetevano and Brad Dwyer to that mix and you are going to start executing a few more plays and things look a little bit different.

“I’m excited by the tools I’ve got to work with over the next week. We asked some questions but just didn’t have enough zip or enough speed. We were not patient enough to build a game, but we will get there.”



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