Leeds Rhinos coach Brian McDermott admits a huge West Yorkshire derby against potential Qualifiers rivals Bradford would be huge – and insists it would add some “spice” to the Qualifiers.
The Rhinos already know they are competing in the Qualifiers from next month, but the Bulls’ future is far less secure.
However, if they avoid defeat at Featherstone on Sunday they will also make the ‘middle eight’, setting up a ferocious West Yorkshire derby once again between the Rhinos and the Bulls.
And McDermott, a former Bradford player, insists it would be fascinating to see.
“It would make it interesting – it’d be a big game, wouldn’t it,” he said.
“It would be a big game and I don’t think you need to be an expert to realise the Championship teams are very good. I’ve watched a few games recently and history tells us that they can beat Super League teams. Certainly a Leeds-Bradford game would add some spice to it all.”
Before the Qualifiers however, the Rhinos have the opportunity to secure an extra home game in the Qualifiers if they can continue their good run of form by beating Hull KR on Thursday: a game McDermott insists is crucial.
“We can finish ninth and that’s hugely important for us, because practically we get more home games.
“We want to play as many home games as we can. There’s a scenario where we can finish bottom and we don’t want to do that of course, but just going into the Qualifiers on the back of a run of performances which we can be proud of is important.
“We’ve been in some places this year where we haven’t been that proud of what we’ve done, but to have some proud and integrity about how we’re operating has been huge for us in recent weeks.
“Hull KR will be a challenge because they will want to go into the Qualifiers on the back of a win but we’re trying to hold onto some things we’ve been creating for about six weeks now.”
McDermott also said he’s hopeful of a brighter future at Leeds, hinting he may still be at the club next season.
“We’ve all been through an experience this club has never been through before and, if you can come through the other side, there is a vast amount to learn and you will be far better for it,” he said.
“But most coaches go through this type of turmoil and never get to learn those lessons because they either duck out and resign or the club sacks them.
“What we’ve done is go through that really tough moment together. The club has held its nerve, although it’s certainly asked questions.
“We’ve got a season review to go through and there will be some tough questions to ask but we’re going to come out of it in absolutely far better shape. Our team is going to be really healthy next year.
“That’s not to say we’re going to win every game but some of the toughness that the fellas have had to show this year will make them stronger. You wouldn’t plan it but, once you come through it, you’re glad it’s happened.”