New Leeds Rhinos Head Coach Brian McDermott says he is already looking forward to the opening game of the season when Leeds will take on his former club Bradford Bulls at the Millennium Stadium.
The Rhinos will kick off their season against their old rivals as part of the Magic Weekend on 12th and 13th February when all 14 teams will start their season at the same venue over one weekend.
For McDermott it means a clash against the club he played at for ten years and where he won two Championships including the 2001 Grand Final, the 2002 World Club Challenge and the 2000 Challenge Cup Final.
Looking ahead to the clash McDermott said, “It is a good challenge for us and something for us to get our teeth into. Leeds v Bradford games are always big games and it should start the competition with a bang.
“Both teams have got new coaches and I am sure both will be working on some new things during pre-season and they will be wanting to put those systems into action in the first game of the season. Obviously in round one, the teams will not be the finished product but we will have a good idea of how the teams will play in the season,” added McDermott.
The former Harlequins RL coach was unveiled as the new Rhinos Head Coach on Monday. During his playing career he played for Bradford in many derby clashes with Leeds, including the 2000 Challenge Cup Final. He admits that he hopes that is former club will have an upturn in fortunes this season after missing out on the play offs in the last two seasons.
He added, “It will be special to take on Bradford. The Bulls were a massive part of my life for many years and it would be wrong of me to say otherwise. We will be going out to do a job against them on 13th February and trying to get our seasons off to a winning start but I do hope that Bradford return to form next season. I think the game needs its big clubs to be strong and Bradford are one of our game’s biggest clubs.”
McDermott is a fan of the Magic Weekend concept and he thinks that starting the season off with a massive festival of Rugby League in the Welsh capital yet again shows what makes the sport special. He added, “I think we should be proud that our sport is not afraid to innovate. There has been some debate about the timing of the Magic Weekend but I think this is a great option. For fans of the 14 clubs it should be a fantastic weekend and I would urge every neutral to get down there for the weekend. Whilst teams might not be a full steam as they would be in mid-season, round one always produces some exciting rugby, full of energy, and I would expect that to be exactly the same at the Millennium Stadium.”