A good win for England over the Exiles on saturday evening should have been a positive influence on the Leeds contingent of; Sinfield, Peacock, Burrow, Ablett, Jones-Buchanan and Hall. But all six have been asked to play their second game in just over forty-eight hours against a fresh Wakefield side.
Add in Hardaker, Ben Jones-Bishop, Clarkson and Lunt, who were all on duty for the Knights against Ireland and we're already asking a lot of far too many players. We are also missing Brent Webb who is out for up to eight weeks, although Danny McGuire is available for selection.
Leeds have lost the last two games, both comprehensively, and are on the back on just one Super League win in the last five outings. McDermott knows that a win tonight is mandatory and names a nineteen of; Jones-Bishop, Hardaker, Hall, McGuire, Burrow, Leuluiai, Peacock, Jones-Buchanan, Ablett, Sinfield, Delaney, Bailey, Kirke, Clarkson, Hauraki, Griffin, Moore, Ward, and Lunt. Your guess on the two to miss out is as good as mine, but don't be surprised if one of them is Peacock and the other comes from Hauraki, Griffin and Moore.
The Wildcats have won their last three games (Castleford, London and Hull) and will be fancying their chances against the embattled Rhinos. A win would put our neighbours just two points behind us on the Superleague ladder, and would see the top eight drifting further from our grasp.
Richard Agar names a nineteen which includes ex-Rhinos Fox, Amor and Mathers along with recently departed South Stand favourite Ali Lauiti'iti. It could be these boys night.
The full squad is; Mathers, Fox, Collis, Mellars, Cockayne, John, Wood, Raleigh, Lauiti'iti, Southern, Washbrook, Aiton, Amor, Walshaw, Mariano, Trout, Smith, Wilkes, and Sykes.
Three ex-Rhinos 'Cats to keep an eye on;
We always beat the Wildcats.
This is the first Super League XVII encounter as this game was postponed from the World Club Challenge weekend and it sees us catch the rest of Super League up in terms of games played.
The sides did meet earlier in the season when the Rhinos knocked the visitors out of the Challenge Cup by 38-18 as the backs ran riot.
The last time that the Wildcats beat us was in 2010 by 28-18 but you have to go back almost five years to July 2007 for the last Wakefield win at Headingley, that day by a margin of 16-23.
I'm going for a Leeds win but this is based more on hope and history than any objective appraisal of the current situation. We should be able to win, and a win is essential for our quest for the top eight and a shot, however unrealistic, of the Grand Final. I think it will be a close game, neither side really has the form to run away with it, but Wakefield will be a difficult team to beat as they are full of confidence.
There is a small chance of rain this afternoon but it is forecast to clear up before kick-off. The game IS NOT on SKY TV so what are you waiting for, get yourself to Headingley to cheer on the lads and get our season kick started.
Oh, and keep everything crossed while saluting every magpie you see. We'll need a big slice of luck too.
See you there.