Occasions like Friday are why you play rugby, says Brian McDermott

Leeds coach Brian McDermott believes occasions such as tonight’s Grand Final rematch with Castleford in front of a bumper Elland Road crowd are why players want to play rugby league.

McDermott is hopeful the two West Yorkshire heavyweights can put on a show befitting of what could yet be an all-time Super League record crowd at Headingley, as the two sides meet in a competitive game for the first time since Leeds became champions last October.

And the Rhinos boss admits he’s looking forward to the occasion, saying: “Isn’t it good? This is why players are involved, for games like this.

“We’re fortunate at Headingley that we play in front of big crowds like this, but a 20,000-plus crowd? It’ll be the highlight of the season so far, and let’s hope rugby league fans are talking about this being a standard of Super League where everyone would like to aspire to be.

“We’re big friends with Leeds United, and our clubs are getting a stronger relationship than they’ve ever had. So the second time around, we’ll be better with the routine of coming here and getting ready for a game on a field that isn’t ours.”

McDermott also believes that, having passed one significant test last week by beating league leaders St Helens, the Rhinos will get another accurate measure of where they are following Friday night’s game.

“We know it’s going to be a big test, and Cas are an incredibly tough team to play against so we know it’s going to be tough – but we’re looking forward to it,” he said.

“We said before the St Helens game that it would give us a good indication of where we’re at, and the fallout from that game means we’ve still got some stuff to do technically, but what came out of it is that we’re healthy and we’re playing for each other. After Castleford, we’ll have another indication of where we’re at.”

Ashton Golding and captain Kallum Watkins will be available for selection having been passed fit.