McDermott wary of Wakefield threat

Leeds coach Brian McDermott is not a fan of the controversial clubcall, but admits he would have liked to have been able to select any team but Wakefield as his side's opening play-off opponents.

The reigning Super League champions are hoping history will repeat itself as they seek to again lift the title from fifth place, but McDermott is not expecting Saturday night's first eliminator to be as straightforward as it was 12 months ago when his side beat eighth-placed Hull 42-10 at Headingley.

"They are a major threat," McDermott said. "I think if you gave every team in the play-offs a clubcall for who they could play in the first round, no one would pick Wakefield at this stage because of the run they are on."

The Wildcats, who finished second from bottom last season, ended the regular season with a run of seven straight wins, which included a 38-18 victory over McDermott's men, to climb into the top eight.

Former Leeds favourite Ali Lauitiiti, who was a member of the Rhinos' Grand Final-winning team last October, missed the recent match between the two teams because of suspension but will be among a host of players with big-match experience lining up against the champions.

McDermott continued: "Richard Agar has done a great job there this season when you consider where they were this time last year and the squad he has moulded together.

"We lost to Wakefield a few weeks ago and they played really well. In the play-offs you have got to beat a few good teams who are usually in good form and you have got to do it for at least three weeks."

The Wildcats' recent win over the Rhinos was at home but Headingley will hold no fears for them, according to captain Danny Kirmond.

They were leading 12-6 at half-time in their Challenge Cup fourth-round tie against Leeds in April before eventually going down 38-18, and achieved the highest score by a losing team in Super League when they lost 44-40 in June.

"Playing a team that you've beaten, you know there is a formula there," Kirmond said. "We definitely got a lot of confidence even when we've been beaten by Leeds this year. They've been close games. We've got nothing to lose really. It's always going to be hard going to Headingley because they are a good team at home but we'll be taking a big following I'm sure."