McDermott puts faith in youth
Leeds Rhinos coach Brian McDermott is backing the club's youngsters to help pull the Super League champions through the worst injury crisis in his time at Headingley.
The Rhinos had three 18-year-olds in the team that beat Widnes Vikings 38-28 in their last match and McDermott is ready to give debuts to two more teenagers against second-placed Huddersfield Giants at the John Smith's Stadium tomorrow.
Alex Foster, 19, and Elliot Minchella, 17, are poised to get their chances in the absence of 10 senior players as the champions include no fewer than 15 products of their academy system in their 19-man squad.
With Liam Sutcliffe, Thomas Minns and Jordan Baldwinson already making their mark, the future looks bright for Leeds but McDermott believes the youngsters can also have an influence on the champions this year.
"Everybody has a script written for what our season might look like from here on in," McDermott said.
"We've got our own script to write and it could be a pretty special story, given what's happening with us at the moment.
"It's how you deal with injuries which probably determines whether you get to the big stuff at the end of the year."
Huddersfield are looking for a fifth consecutive win over the Rhinos, having knocked them out of the Challenge Cup earlier this year, and coach Paul Anderson is determined not to allow his side to take them lightly.
"I'm not interested in who Leeds have missing," Anderson said. "The fact is you don't become Grand Final champions six times in nine years by not being a good club.
"Leeds have a lot of ability and offensive threat, we just need to be better than them at creating and taking our chances.
"We won't be taking Leeds lightly. If you are going to take them lightly, then you won't be at the Giants."
London Broncos are still waiting for the arrival of Australian half-back Jamie Soward but coach Tony Rea says news of the signing has provided his side with a lift ahead of tomorrow's trip to Wakefield Trinity Wildcats.
"It's timely," Rea said. "The whole club is delighted that (owner) David Hughes has backed that one and the team is really excited by it. We've trained really well this week."
The Broncos are in need of a tonic after suffering an 82-10 defeat by Warrington Wolves in their last match a fortnight ago, which saw them drop back to the foot of the table until Salford City Reds’ points deduction.
Rea added: "We haven't been tearing it up but there is a lot of rugby league left in this season.
"We have an opportunity to turn it around and put some performances out there. We had a bad one in the last start, probably our worst ever, and we need a response to that."
Bradford Bulls will be aiming to rekindle their play-off hopes when they entertain Widnes Vikings tomorrow.
The Bulls have won just one of their last seven league matches to drop from third to ninth in the table and coach Francis Cummins knows they cannot afford to slip up against the lowly Vikings.
"If you want to make the play-offs, it's important to beat the teams around you and knock over a few of the ones above you so it is important for that but it's also important in where we have been in the last little while," Cummins said.
"We just need to play well as a unit and, if we do that, then we will be in for the points against any side."
The Vikings are below Bradford with just five wins from 18 games but only five teams have scored more points so far this year.
"They play some really good football and they have some very dangerous players in there," Cummins added. "If they get a roll on they can certainly score some points."