McDermott lauds Leeds' character after Rhinos secure Old Trafford return
Brian McDermott hailed the character of his Leeds Rhinos players after they booked a return to the Super League Grand Final with an 18-16 victory over Hull FC.
Treble winners in 2015, the Rhinos endured a woeful campaign last term and faced the indignity of competing in the Qualifiers to retain their Super League status after missing out on a top-eight finish.
However, Leeds have bounced back impressively this year and will face Castleford Tigers at Old Trafford next weekend after edging out Hull on Friday.
"The job's not done. If we don't win next week, it will hurt," said McDermott.
"But I think that's a huge achievement from the players that endured all sorts of ridicule and had things wrote about them, things said about them, [and were] booed [last year].
"We've only added one bloke [hooker Matt Parcell] to the squad and for them, first off, to finish second and secure top four with three games to go, that in itself is a big thing and shows what character they've got. And to get through to the Grand Final now is big."
Leeds were trounced 66-10 by Castleford in March, with McDermott memorably stating the following week that he still believed his team could make the Grand Final - a prediction that appeared hugely optimistic at the time.
"It wasn't a one-liner, it wasn't a Hollywood moment. I believed we could do it," the Rhinos coach added following the win over Hull.
Nevertheless, McDermott knows his side can expect a stiff test from the Tigers, who dominated the regular season and won the League Leaders' Shield by a convincing margin.
"They're a good team, Castleford, extremely good," said McDermott.
"We're going to have to be on the money... they challenge you in nearly every area of the game."