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24th February 2018, 09:51 | super_league

McDermott backs Rhinos fringe players

McDermott backs Rhinos fringe players

Leeds Rhinos coach Brian McDermott is confident his patched-up team will be good enough to maintain their 100 per cent start to the Betfred Super League season when they visit Widnes Vikings.

The Rhinos arrived back last Sunday from Australia, where they lost 38-4 to Melbourne Storm in the World Club Challenge, and have been licking their wounds after Stevie Ward, Jack Walker and Adam Cuthbertson joined their considerable injury list.

McDermott has revealed that Cuthbertson went back on the field at AAMI Park with a broken hand because his side ran out of troops and also admits that stand-off Joel Moon should not have played in that match because of a leg injury.

However, McDermott is able to bring back Ashton Golding, Mitch Garbutt, Josh Walters, Mikolaj Oledzki and Ash Handley to plug the gaps and is confident they will be good enough to see off the Vikings on Sunday.

“They’re ready to get back into Super League,” McDermott said. “They always knew we were going to play round three when we got back.

“We are putting out a different version of the team that played in Australia but I feel this team will be good enough.”

While the Rhinos are without six forwards, they at least have a ready-made replacement for teenage full-back Walker, with former first choice number one Golding now set for a run in the role.

“Golding will have a run of games now and the best performer will get the shirt, as has always been the case,” McDermott said.

“He is no slouch as a full-back and it was tough not having him in the team. He expected to play in the World Club Challenge.

“He’s got a fantastic attitude, he knows he was going to get his chance and I’m sure he will do us a great job.”

The reigning champions have been training on their own 3G pitch to help them prepare for the synthetic surface at the Halton Stadium, where Widnes have a proud record.

Despite a bright start to the season, the Vikings have won just one of their opening three games and coach Denis Betts believes their luck will change.

“We are frustrated at only having a couple of points on the board but we spoke at the beginning of the year about consistency and we’re not far off,” Betts said.

“If you look at us as a group, we are pretty strong. We’ve got to take the next step and get the victories on the board.”