Leeds Rhinos' Grand Final win 'special' for McDermott

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Rhinos prove critics wrong

Leeds coach Brian McDermott praised his team's belief and "humility" after they won a gripping Grand Final.

McDermott received some hefty criticism as Rhinos finished fifth in the regular season, but they turned on the style to beat St Helens 32-16 at Old Trafford.

He said: "Not once has anyone whinged, moaned, blamed refs or looked for answers other than what's inside.

"That's why this is special. Coaching here is so special for the humility and integrity the players show."

Leeds claimed a fourth title in five years - and became the first team to win the final having finished outside the top three - with an impressive display in an enthralling match on Saturday.

McDermott's men had seemed in danger of not reaching the play-offs for the first time in their history following a 38-18 defeat against Catalans Dragons in July.

However McDermott, who rejoined the club from Harlequins last winter, said there was never a lack of conviction in and around Headingley.

"Gary Hetherington [chief executive] would have been questioned about 'who's this British coach you've got, he was at Harlequins last year, your team is too old, your halves don't do this and your props are too old'," McDermott said.

"But the culture and philosophy we have at this club gets you through dark times."

Captain Kevin Sinfield, who dedicated the win to those who had criticised the team, added: "People have had a crack at us and to hit a champion side [St Helens] straight on the chin is testament to the calibre of player at the club, Brian Mac, the club, our conditioners. I'm really proud.

"People were calling us Dad's Army, but coming with a Dad's Army is a lot of experience.

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Leeds were too good for us - Simmons

"Everybody who has pointed the finger at this group and attacked us have provided us with a little bit extra to say 'he who laughs last laughs the loudest'."

The defeat was Saints' fifth in succession in the end-of-season showpiece and Australian coach Royce Simmons said his team were guilty of playing too conservatively.

Simmons said: "I was a little bit disappointed with our first half. We went out to try to not lose a Grand Final and you can't do that.

"You need to go out and win it and take it off the opposition. We went out to survive, not make mistakes, not to do anything wrong. You can't win Grand Finals like that.

"We spoke about that at half-time. They listened, they talked and they went out.

"They set it up but unfortunately a few things just went wrong and Leeds, with the experience they have got, ended up wearing us down."