Written by John Davidson
Photo by Sky News
Brian McDermott insists he is not bitter over his axing at Leeds Rhinos last year, but still believes the decision to sack him was the wrong one.
McDermott left Leeds in July after being relieved of his duties with the club on a seven-game losing streak and in eighth place on the table. Super League’s most successful coach, he spent eight seasons at Headingley and won four grand finals, two Challenge Cups, a World Club Challenge and a League Leader’s Shield.
In November the 48-year-old was appointed as the new coach of Toronto Wolfpack.
McDermott admits his abrupt end at the Rhinos was initially a shock, but he looks back at his spell at Leeds fondly.
“Everybody talks to me as if I was out on my feet and they say oh I bet you’ve had time to freshen up,” he told Everything Rugby League.
“It was great, I was loving it. We were having a tough season at the Rhinos and when it happened it was a shock. I didn’t think it was the right thing, I still don’t think it was the right thing now even on reflection.
“But that was the decision that was made – I’m not bitter. I’ll steal a line off Mourinho in that the future for Leeds Rhinos is brilliant isn’t it.
“You look at the ground, you look at the squad they’ve got now, you look at the recruitment they’ve done since I left and they should be nothing other than excited. They’ve got a great future but so have I.
“I’m at a great club and we all move. I’ll do nothing but look back at my time at the Rhinos with anything but fond memories. I didn’t feel like I needed time out, I didn’t feel like I needed to freshen up.
“Quite often I was bored and frustrated and wondering what to do next. It’s great to be back in front of a group of men, talking to blokes about doing some stuff they don’t necessarily want to do. It hurts, but you convince them to do it and that’s the beauty of coaching and the stuff that I love.”
McDermott’s new challenge is to get Toronto into Super League, after the Canadian club was beaten in the Million Pound Game in 2018. He is enthused but knows it won’t be easy.
“It’s a funny one,” he said.
“The concept of the Wolfpack is huge. I don’t feel like I’m at a small club or one in the Championship, but the reality is we go to York in a couple of weeks time and we have to beat York.