Rugby League

Leeds coach Brian McDermott is not worried about the World Club Challenge.

Leeds coach Brian McDermott undeterred despite rare opening-day defeat

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Leeds coach Brian McDermott insists the Super League champions will be ready for the World Club Challenge despite suffering a first opening-day defeat for 16 years.

The Rhinos' title defence got off to the worst possible start with a 12-10 home loss to Warrington, compounded by the loss of new captain Danny McGuire with a knee injury.

It was Leeds' first round-one defeat since 2000 when they went down 22-18 at home to Wakefield and leaves McGuire with just a fortnight to get himself fit for the eagerly-awaited clash with Australian champions North Queensland in the climax to the annual World Club Series on February 21.

"The World Club Challenge is on the horizon and we're mindful of that," McDermott said. "It isn't that it doesn't get mentioned.

"We're hopefully going to get to a stage where we're ready for North Queensland but we're prepping on other things at the moment and we're letting the intensity, motivation and energy take care of itself.

"It's not something we're worried about. That night will be special in its own right."

The Rhinos' only game before the visit of Johnathan Thurston's Cowboys is a visit to Widnes on Sunday week and McDermott has not yet written off McGuire's chances of playing in that match.

"I'm not sure how serious it is," McDermott said. "He's obviously done something, but it's pointless speculating.

"He tried to run it off so you'd imagine it's not really bad. But there's something in there and he's got a brace on. We'll know more tomorrow."

Already without new hooker Beau Falloon after he broke a toe in training, teenager Jordan Lilley was pressed into service for 50 minutes with Rob Burrow forced to switch into the half-back role and the youngster created another favourable impression.

McDermott did not believe the loss of McGuire was pivotal and insisted there were plenty of positives to take from the performance of his team.

Former Leeds coach Tony Smith also had some words of encouragement for his old club after watching his Warrington side pull off a surprise victory, courtesy of winger Kevin Penny's 68th-minute try.

"I think both teams are going to get a whole heap better," Smith said. "I've got to say Leeds were very good in some aspects of the game but looked a bit under-done, as we are."

The Rhinos would have secured a point had Zak Hardaker, who has taken on the goalkicking duties following the departure of Kevin Sinfield, been successful with a late penalty but he badly skewed his kick.

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