SMITH TIPS MACCA TO BE A KEY MAN

Leeds Rhinos coach Tony Smith today tipped veteran prop Barrie McDermott to go from strength to strength.

Leeds Rhinos coach Tony Smith today tipped veteran prop Barrie McDermott to go from strength to strength. Smith told the Yorkshire Evening Post that he is delighted with McDermott's form in training and in Rhinos' early matches – and he predicted that the front-rower will be a key figure in the push for honours. McDermott had a disappointing campaign in 2003, but Smith said: "I have thrown him quite a few challenges this year and at the moment he is responding exceptionally well. "His choice of offloads is something he has probably been criticised for in the past, but it was exceptional against London at the weekend. "He found the right time to pass and put on offloads. That is an ability he has got and I certainly want him to use that. He picked his moments exceptionally well." Smith added: "One of the parts of Barrie's game I thought was very, very good was his defence. That was a great improvement and he worked exceptionally hard. He gave a bit extra of himself. "I think Barrie will find a new level for himself this year. I think everybody in the game has got a healthy respect for him. "He realises his age and all that, but there is no reason why some of his best form can't be ahead of him." McDermott and Ryan Bailey were Rhinos' starting props against London with Danny Ward and Wayne McDonald on the bench. Smith said: "Our front-row is very healthy. Chris Feather is probably a bit unlucky at the moment. "He built his form up during our friendlies and is waiting in the wings. He is putting pressure on the players already in the team and they realise that. Smith has reported several minor injuries from the London game and will not risk any player who is not fully fit for Sunday's Powergen Challenge Cup trip to Workington.