McDermott: Give Brits a chance
Brian McDermott will again take his Leeds Rhinos side into a Grand Final knowing that apart from aiming for back-to-back titles, he will be striking a blow for homegrown coaches.
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The former Great Britain prop, who has long been passionate about the development of his sport, became the first British coach to win the Super League since his former mentor Brian Noble in 2005, when Leeds beat St Helens last October.
He did so despite a mid-season crisis which saw chief executive Gary Hetherington stand by him in the face of some hearty calls for him to be sacked, with their fifth Super League title providing the perfect vindication.
McDermott has since been joined in the full-time coaching ranks by two more Brits, with Bradford turning to former Leeds winger Francis Cummins and Huddersfield doing the same with McDermott's old team-mate Paul Anderson.
And ahead of his side's clash with Warrington at Old Trafford on Saturday, McDermott is pleased that some of his compatriots are now getting a chance to show what they can do, and believes his success may have paved the way.
"I think, and I'm deadly serious about it, that without bringing attention to myself, that the way that the club stood by me and backed me through some bad results helped me," he said.
"There have been some tough times this year as well, questions have been asked and the club have stood strong. I hope we have shown the way with what can be done.
"I hope it's true that a few of the owners and directors might look and think: 'Let's bring in a British coach'.
"Eamon McManus at St Helens showed great faith in Mike Rush, Francis Cummins got the job at Bradford and Paul Anderson at Huddersfield. I'd like to think that a bit of last year's story with me might have influenced that."
McDermott learned his trade as a coach under the man he will square up to on Saturday, Australian Tony Smith.
He counts Smith, a three-time Challenge Cup winner since moving to Warrington and a former Great Britain coach to boot, as being one of the best things to happen to the sport in this country.
And, as a result, he is keen to stress that he is not looking for all 14 Super League clubs to employ British tacticians, but just to give them a chance to impress.
"This isn't about all British just for British sake," he said.
"There are some coaches out there who are British and have yet to prove they are good enough and there are some overseas influences who has been outstanding for the British game, Tony Smith being one of them as he has been sensational. He's really had a huge influence on us.
"I'm not trying to seek 14 British Super League coaches, but if we can just get away from that era where the next cab off the rank had to come from overseas, that would be nice.
"The British fellas weren't getting a look in. My issue has never been with the employment, it's the process. I know of some head coaches getting appointed last year, where there were British number twos who hadn't even had an interview, or contact whatsoever, which I think is tough.
"They went for jobs, but when we're not even looking at English fellas not on the list, that gets a bit worrying."