Macca the Marine Has His Quins Well Drilled; Tough Options: McDermott Admits His Marine Training Has Helped His Decision-Making Picture: GETTY IMAGES

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AS befits a former Royal Marine, Brian McDermott does not do softoptions.

And options, in the sporting realm at least, do not come much more challengingthan coaching Harlequins RL, in the heart of rugby union landsharing a name and ground with one of that code's iconic clubs, virtually inthe shadow of Twickenham.

However, McDermott, 38, has been inspirational and his team, tipped by almosteveryone to finish in the bottom two of engage Super League XIII, responded tomost of the questions he asked of them and won six of their opening 10 games.

They would have been tough questions from McDermott, who saw active serviceduring his five years in the armed forces.

'I don't talk about those times but I'm happy to say that being a Marine ispart of what I am,' he said. 'I learned that taking the tough option is usuallythe right option.

'And taking the right option becomes just as much of a habit as taking thewrong one.

You can't live like a slob all week and then, on Saturday or Sunday afternoon,go out and be a top performer.' Wakefield-born McDermott, once one of BradfordBulls' 'awesome foursome' of Testmatch props alongside Stuart Fielden, PaulAnderson and Joe Vagana, rarely took a backward step.

In the brutal midfield collisions and bone-shaking defence which is central tothe sport, he displayed the great rugby league virtues of courage, skill, powerand discipline.

Well, not quite always the discipline bit.

As Vagana recalled last week: 'When I joined the Bulls, the boys showed me avideo of Macca against Leeds flooring three of their players with threepunches. I made a mental note never to get on the wrong side of him!' However,McDermott, a heavyweight boxing champion in the services, does not look back onthe incident with pride. …