Leeds Rhinos coach Brian McDermott has insisted that his side want to “win everything” in 2017 – adding that he believes it is completely possible his side can transform themselves from a bottom-four team in 2016 to trophy winners this season.
Leeds endured a torrid year in 2016, finishing outside the top eight last season and ultimately ending up in the Qualifiers, where they were made to play for Super League survival: something they ultimately achieved with relative ease.
And when quizzed about his side’s goals for the upcoming season – which begins for Leeds with a trip to St Helens on the opening night – McDermott was typically forthright: saying that it’s not unrealistic in his eyes for Leeds to do a clean sweep.
“We aim to win everything,” McDermott said at the club’s pre-season media day at Headingley on Wednesday.
“In context to where this team has been at for the last 18 months, it’s a big call but I know – it’s not an unrealistic call.
“I’ve run this past the players already and nobody broke eye contact: none of their eyes dropped. They were straight for it.
“We want the League Leader’s Shield. That’s the big thing for us. To finish top of the pile after those 30 rounds is a big thing now. We don’t regard it as the champions but it’s a well-respected trophy.”
Leeds will step up their preparations for the new season with a friendly against Hull KR on Friday night, which doubles up as Ryan Hall’s testimonial match.
McDermott insisted that he will be naming a strong squad for that game – but two players who will miss out are the England duo, Brett Ferres and Stevie Ward, who McDermott admitted could yet miss the start of the new season.
“Both haven’t done that much running,” McDermott said. “The physios may declare them fit but whether we put them in there is a decision we will make nearer the time.”
With new signing Matt Parcell in attendance, McDermott was asked a round of inevitable questions about James Segeyaro amidst speculation he is close to joining Cronulla.
However, Rhinos officials have told TotalRL that the hooker has not been the subject of any official bids lodged to Leeds thus far.