It has been perhaps a week like no other for Leeds coach Brian McDermott. A thumping defeat which saw records tumble at Castleford last Thursday, followed by the letter issued by Rhinos chief executive Gary Hetherington detailing how crucial the next month is for everyone at Headingley.
But for McDermott, there is at least the realisation when he wakes on Friday morning that his side have an opportunity to put things right tonight against Catalans – and he has backed them to provide a response.
“It has been a really long, tough week – the footage has not been good to look at – but there’s been lots of signs that they will respond,” he said.
“They’ve never shirked that responsibility, not tried to hide or not shoulder some of the responsibility.”
A response is perhaps what most expect from Leeds after the 66-10 loss at Castleford. And McDermott says that in training this week, he’s seen enough to fill him with confidence.
He said: “Lots of them (signs). I’ve said in my programme notes that people get to see the players good or bad as a player and I get to see them every single day – the good version, the bad version, the tired version and the stressed-out version.
“And I always maintain this and long may this continue: they’re all very committed. Nobody is thinking it’s someone else’s fault. There’s a lot of humility about them so we spoke on the Friday morning afterwards and in the subsequent days, we went through the processes.”
McDermott is as defiant as they come – his pre-rugby league background in the Marines has shaped him that way. And he remains confident that at the start of a potentially career-changing period for himself and the Rhinos as a whole, Leeds will bounce back.
“Yes, it is a big game and the next three or four in particular are big,” he said. “This isn’t about anybody making ugly decisions or big decisions after the next four games.
“But we want to be in a position in the league where we’re challenging at the top. And that’s the big thing for us.”
Only time will tell whether McDermott’s confidence proves to be on the money: starting tonight.