Brian McDermott is already making his mark on the USA Hawks national team, with the Leeds head coach’s philosophy and ideas being transmitted to the American players and staff ahead of vital World Cup qualifiers against Canada and Jamaica.
McDermott is keen to instil a strong sense of professionalism in the domestic USA players.
“I’m a strong believer in the notion that, once you’ve found what you have a talent for, with enough sacrifice, anything can be accomplished,” he said.
“I’ve been impressed with the professionalism and dedication that has gone on in preparation for this camp through Peter Illfield and his staff.
“I have passed on a whole range of philosophies I’d like to be instilled in both practice and how we might play.
“There are going to be some obvious differences coming from an environment where it’s what we do for a living to one where the players are part time but I’m expecting a level of commitment to equal that of any full time professional.
“One of my tasks is to make sure I’m not coaching the A-Z of rugby league while I’m out there. There’s a few areas I feel we will need to be great at and keeping it simple is something I’m keen on doing.”
McDermott spent some time in the States last year, as the Rhinos took their preseason preparations to Florida again.
Leeds played a game against the USA Pioneers, a team of domestic-based players, while on that trip, and McDermott was impressed with what he saw.
Some American players also spent time in camp training with the Rhinos players.
“During that time, Darryl ‘Spinner’ Howland and myself were involved in lots of conversations generally about rugby league, coaching and how it’s done in the USA. I initially offered to come over and hold some clinics, something I have done regularly, particularly in London.
“I see a lot of similarities in the challenges that USARL faces that London has, ones I really enjoyed taking on when I was down in the capital.
“The USARL management kept me in the loop of all developments and it’s been interesting to watch both the Colonial Cup games against Canada on the net.
“It’s crucial what we do as a team and understanding the major facets of the game will be key. My task in the few short days we have together is to get ultimate clarity in those areas.
“We will have the utmost respect for our opponents but will be primarily focussing on our own back yard.”
McDermott is also keen for rugby league as a sport to put down some proper roots in a huge potential market.
“The aim is to give the players involved and coaches the tools to go back to their clubs and help to grow the game,” he said.
“In the meantime, for us to have a chance of qualifying for the 2017 World Cup – which could have a significant impact on rugby league’s profile in the States – we need to come together quickly, make the required adjustments, commit to a plan and strategy and make the relevant sacrifices on the field.”