Leeds coach Brian McDermott insists his side will provide a response on an emotionally-charged night at Headingley this evening – while also revealing the reasons behind dropping fullback Ashton Golding for tonight’s clash with St Helens.
The Rhinos will bid farewell to their famous South Stand this evening in a game which victory would go a long way to securing a top-two finish ahead of the play-offs.
Leeds were comprehensively beaten last week at play-off rivals Wakefield but McDermott is confident his side will bounce back tonight.
He said: “I’m confident we’ll get a response. That was a poor loss on a few different levels last week. I thought a few of the tries were head-scratching moments where you ask ‘why did we do that?’ – it wasn’t through a lack of effort, it was just a few clumpy and clunky moments. But that said, we were off so there will be a reaction.
“That’s the first performance in such a long while where we lacked that bit of bite and energy. Even in the Challenge Cup I thought we had a crack, we just faced an extremely good Hull side. That last week was the first game in a long time where it lacked something about it.
“Almost every time we’ve been beaten this year, we’ve won the week after. It’s not so much that we’ve won, it’s that we’ve had a good performance and we’ll get up for this game, for sure.”
McDermott admitted he is unlikely to make too many changes for tonight’s game – but one change will see Jack Walker replace Golding at fullback following a disappointing display last week.
And the Leeds coach admitted Golding had been dropped, not replaced due to injury.
“He’s not injured,” McDermott confirmed of Golding.
“You’ve got to reach a level of performance and if you don’t, you miss out. It’ll be tough for Ash but it’s part of his progression. It’s not nice at times but those ‘not nice moments’ are where you learn.
“He’s not happy and he’s disappointed, but he’s a good egg and he understands and gets it. Whether he disagrees or not, you’d have to ask him but my decision is to make sure that when we say he’s got to be here, there and everywhere, he’s got to do that.
“Jack’s played a few games this year and been good. It’s not such a big move really.”