Brian McDermott sacked as head coach of Leeds Rhinos

Brian McDermott
Brian McDermott won the Super League Grand Final four times with Leeds

Brian McDermott says he is "extremely disappointed" to be sacked by Leeds Rhinos, ending his status as Super League's longest-serving head coach.

During eight seasons at the club, McDermott, 48, won four Grand Finals, two Challenge Cups, a League Leaders' Shield and a World Club Challenge.

But the Rhinos are currently eighth in the Super League table with four games remaining in the regular season.

"Obviously it is not a decision I agree with," said McDermott.

"I am extremely disappointed this has happened. I wish everyone at the club the best and my thoughts will be with the team on Sunday and through to the end of the season."

McDermott has led Leeds for 265 games since taking over in 2011 and led the Rhinos in at least one major final in every year of his tenure.

But the Yorkshire club have been hampered by injuries this season and Thursday's 46-8 defeat at Wigan was their seventh Super League loss in a row and a ninth in 12 matches in all competitions.

They have also reached the semi-finals of the Challenge Cup and face Warrington at Bolton Wanderers' Macron Stadium on 5 August.

'Forever indebted to Brian'

McDermott won four Super League Grand Finals, a League Leaders' Shield, two Challenge Cups and a World Club Challenge
McDermott won four Super League Grand Finals, a League Leaders' Shield, two Challenge Cups and a World Club Challenge

Chief executive Gary Hetherington said the club would "forever be indebted" to McDermott.

"The club's most successful coach has also helped to forge a rugby operation with toughness, resilience and a strong desire to succeed, which his successor will inherit," said Hetherington.

"Eight years is a long time for any head coach at the same club and we have enjoyed much success and endured some difficult times along the way when tough decisions had to be made.

"We have always come through strongly but I do believe our present predicament requires change and that this is the right call for the club.

"Brian is a man of the utmost integrity and passion for rugby league. He has so much to offer the sport and I have no doubt he will go on to achieve more success in the future."

Hetherington added that he "does not have any firm plans in place" regarding McDermott's successor, although a member of his backroom staff will take charge of Sunday's Super League match against Castleford.

Analysis

BBC rugby league correspondent Dave Woods

The sacking of Brian McDermott is a shock because that's not been Leeds' style in recent years.

Two years ago - a season after winning the treble - the Rhinos slumped and flirted with relegation. But, back then, chief executive Gary Hetherington cited mitigating circumstances and said that changing the coaching staff was not the answer.

This year - again the season after winning the title - Leeds are on the cusp of being dragged into a relegation battle. But again there are mitigating circumstances. They lost two key on-field leaders at the end of last year in Rob Burrow and Danny McGuire, and they have a crippling injury list at the moment.

But Leeds have lost the ability to tough out tight games, losing several matches this year by narrow margins.

And there is a very real danger in being involved in the Qualifiers this year. A couple of the Championship clubs look likely candidates to win promotion at the expense of a couple of Super League teams, so Leeds can ill-afford the risk of slipping into the bottom four.

There is no obvious replacement at this stage for McDermott, which means that now two of the game's biggest clubs - Wigan and Leeds - are searching for long-term replacements for departing coaches. The next few weeks will be interesting.

McDermott's time in Leeds

  • October 2010: Replaced Brian McClennan as head coach, two months after leaving Harlequins to return to Leeds as assistant coach - a job he previously did under Tony Smith.
  • October 2011: Leeds won Grand Final at McDermott's first attempt, beating St Helens 32-16, having finished fifth in final table. Beaten by Wigan in Challenge Cup final.
  • October 2012: After beating Manly in World Club Challenge, finished fifth again but won Grand Final, beating Warrington 26-18 - revenge for a 35-18 defeat in the Challenge Cup final.
  • October 2013: Finished third in Super League, but beaten 22-12 in the play-off semis by eventual winners Wigan.
  • August 2014: Won the Challenge Cup, Leeds' first Wembley triumph in 15 years, beating Castleford 22-10. But finished sixth in Super League, beaten by Catalans in the play-offs.
  • October 2015: Won domestic treble. Hammered Hull KR 50-0 at Wembley, finished top of the league, then beat Wigan 22-20 at Old Trafford. Kevin Sinfield leaves, Jamie Peacock and Kylie Leuluai retire.
  • October 2016: Leeds forced to play in the Qualifiers, having finished ninth in Super League after season wrecked by injuries and freak flooding of training ground.
  • October 2017: Leeds finish 10 points behind Castleford, but beat the Tigers 24-6 in the Grand Final. Rob Burrow retires, Danny McGuire joins Hull KR.
  • July 2018: Leeds reach Challenge Cup semi-finals but McDermott leaves with Leeds eighth in Super League - in danger of a second bottom-four finish in three seasons.

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