KEIRON Cunningham says Brian McDermott did a “great job” with Leeds last season.
Speaking ahead of the Betfred Super League opener at the Totally Wicked Stadium this Thursday, he praised the Rhinos’ coach for turning his side’s fortunes around.
“I think Leeds did a great job with what they had to hand,” he said. “As is always the case strong squads and strong coaches always seem to overcome those issues. I don’t think enough people are giving Brian McDermott credit for what he did.
“They very nearly made the eight and if they had done they would have given anyone a game. They did that without some really important people for a long time.
“I don’t think they have a point to prove; they are a great side and great club and will come here ready to play.
“It will be a tough season for everyone as every club has strengthened. I’d like to think we have a good enough squad to be in the mix for everything.
“The lads just want to get out there and play. We will be rusty like all teams – it takes a couple of games to get into the flow – but we look good, are in good shape and are excited to get out there.”
Keiron says the past two weeks have been spent finding a half back partnership that works for the club – but whoever takes to the field will face a baptism of fire in the first game of the season.
He continued: “Losing Matty (Smith) is difficult – we played him a little differently to the way he played at Wigan and he looked good. It hurts losing him but you have to adapt and overcome in sport all the time and that is what we will do.
“It will be a baptism of fire for whoever is in the halves but I’m not a coach who will put them in and out for one game. Everyone deserves a shot. Danny Richardson is a good kid and has been running teams for a number of years so I wouldn’t have an issue playing him if he is going to play.
“Games against Leeds always seem to be high scoring and entertaining. Having looked at Leeds already this season, Brian seems to have his team playing in the same expansive way.
“We like to chuck the ball around and score points ourselves too so it will be quite a flashy game.
“But we will need to make sure we are defensively good.”
Tickets for Thursday’s game, which kicks off at 8pm, remain on sale from the Ticket Office, online and by calling 01744 455052. There will also be cash turnstiles.