Brian McDermott insists Featherstone Rovers aren’t Championship favourites ahead of opener

The mind games began in the Championship promotion race before the season even started with Featherstone Rovers coach Brian McDermott declaring Leigh Centurions as title favourites.

Defeated in the last two editions of the Million Pound Game, Featherstone are making another big push for Super League and begin their campaign tonight (Monday, kick-off 7.45pm) away at York City Knights, live on Premier Sports.

Leigh, relegated from the top flight last season and coached by former Wigan Warriors boss Adrian Lam, and Rovers are considered the two clear favourites to battle it out for promotion, but McDermott has framed his side as the underdogs.

“They’re the frontrunners,” the ex-Leeds Rhinos boss said of the Centurions. 

“They’ll have the biggest spend. They’ll have got the experience. They’ll have that muscle memory of getting into Super League. 

“I think we’re in a really strong position and I’m confident for us, but if you’re a betting man, I think you put your money on Leigh.”

That is despite three more major signings being made by Featherstone last week, with the Australian trio of Adam Cuthbertson, a multiple trophy winner under McDermott at Leeds, ex-Melbourne Storm halfback Ryley Jacks, and prop Ben Mathiou, son of former Rhino Jamie.

“These signings are going to enhance the squad but they’re going to make it really competitive,” said McDermott.

“I’ll have some difficult conversations with players not in the team. There will be some established players not in the team.

“But what’s my job? My job is to get promoted. My job is to have the best team in the Championship.

“That’s to do with coaches, that’s to do with resources, that’s to do with recruitment. 

“We’ve got a single objective here and that’s to get promoted.”

McDermott will not be taking tonight’s trip to James Ford’s York too lightly, however.

“It’s going to be a big start,” he said. “York will be a tricky fixture. 

“They’re getting better every year, they’re a good club, and they’re got some good foundations behind them. I think they’ll be exciting.”