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How two ex-Leeds Rhinos coaches came together to save Fiji

Fiji’s World Cup preparations didn’t go too well.

They were beaten by England 50-0 on Friday night in a nine-try demolition from the English as nine different players crossed for tries and Marc Sneyd kicked seven out of nine goals to get England ready for the tournament.

Next Saturday, Fiji begin their campaign against Australia at Headingley in what is the toughest possible start for them. Nonetheless, they will be encouraged by the fact they have reached the semi-finals in the last two World Cups, oddly losing both times to Australia.

However, things are a lot more complicated behind the scenes making Fiji’s efforts all the more valiant with the Fijians needing someone to step in and call the shots.

On the NRL website, they reveal just how this problem was solved as two ex-Leeds Rhinos men combined to help Fiji out.

Brian McDermott was called into the coaches box on Friday against England and will be present again against Australia.

It is a quick return after he resigned from his post at Featherstone having failed to deliver promotion and oddly he was joined by the man he replaced at Fev in James Webster on Friday.

But how was McDermott drafted in to help the Fijians on Friday? Well it was down to the man who replaced him as Leeds Rhinos boss.

McDermott won four Grand Finals at Leeds but flirtation with relegation in 2018 saw him relieved of his duties with former Rhinos player David Furner taking over in 2019 though he faced a similar fate midway through that season.

He took charge of Fiji’s mid-season test but was unable to travel to England having taken a job as Wests Tigers assistant so called on McDermott to fill the void.

After the defeat to England, McDermott revealed how this came about with Furner ringing the man he replaced four years ago at Headingley:

“Dave Furner gave me a phone call. Dave is the coaching director, but he couldn’t come over here and he gave me a call to see if I could step in.

“In the few short days that I have been with them, they are fantastic people, really good to be around and they work extremely hard so I am looking forward to the next few weeks.”

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