Gary Hetherington, the Leeds Rhinos’ chief executive, has for the first time hinted that coach Brian McDermott’s job may not be completely secure.

Throughout the turbulent last season Hetherington repeatedly gave his support to McDermott when the team finished outside of the top eight and were forced to battle against relegation from the Super League just 12 months after winning the title for the seventh time in the club’s history.

However, following last Friday’s record 66 – 10 Super League defeat to the Castleford Tigers Hetherington has admitted that a change is a possibility.

Hetherington wrote a letter to the club’s fans in which he says that the decision not to make any major changes last year was a “judgement call” which he still believes to have been the right one. However, he added that the club is “not stubborn enough to believe no change is always the best option.”

In the letter he goes on to say that the club will not be making any “knee-jerk decisions” and that any action they take will have to be carefully thought out. He said that the main consideration would always be “what’s in the best interests of the club now and in the future”.

Hetherington, who admitted that the club is in a period of transition, appeared to suggest that McDermott has four matches in which to save his job.

In the letter he writes that this month they face four important games, against the Catalan Dragons, Wakefield Trinity, Huddersfield Giants and Wigan Warriors. Hetherington said that after these matches they will be in a “much better position to make an accurate judgement on the performance of all our players, coaching staff and senior management including myself.”