The loss of McGuire, seemingly for the rest of Leeds season, can only be seen as devastating. Despite now being available after serving a two match suspension there is no sign of Brent Webb, an indication that he is unlikely to figure in next weeks Challenge Cup Final at Wembley.
Rob Burrow fails to make the trip, wrapped up in cotton wool to ensure that he is fit for next weeks showpiece game, and the other members of the squad will all be trying desperately to secure their places on the bus to Wembley.
It's a stronger squad than I was expecting and McDermott must have struggled long and hard with the 'League or Cup' dilemma. I suspected that he would sent the kids to the south of France while resting his key players, but the lure of a top three finish has forced him to field our top guns in the hope of a victory.
McDermott names his nineteen as; Jones-Bishop, Watkins, Hardaker, Hall, Leuluai, Peacock, Jones-Buchanan, Ablett, Sinfield, Delaney, Bailey, Kirke, Clarkson, Hauraki, Griffin, Moore, Ward, Lunt, Keinhorst. Hauraki and Keinhorst to miss out for me, unless Brian gets cold feet at the eleventh hour and decides not to risk a couple of our seasoned professionals.
The Dragons have lost three out of their last four games, the only victory being a seven point win against the Broncos in Perpignan. Earlier in the season they looked unstoppable but over the last few weeks they have taken a trun for the worse and while unable to match the 'freefall' we have seen from Huddersfield Giants, they do seem to have started suffering from vertigo.
They go into Saturday evenings game without old-timer Steve Menzies, but still with more than enough fire-power to give us a real run for our money.
Trent Robinson will be hoping for his share of the 50-50 referee calls (a shrewd attempt to try and deflect attention from an underperforming team) as his nineteen of; Greenshields, Blanch, Pryce, Sa, Bosc, Dureau, Ferriol, Henderson, Casty, Anderson, Mounis, Raguin, Pelissier, Millard, Fakir, Baitieri, Duport, Cardace, and Pala do battle with the Rhinos.
Three Dragons to keep an eye on;
The Rhinos were 34-18 winners earlier in the season when the sides met at Headingley, thanks to a brace from Ben Jones-Bishop, a try from debutant Lunt, and a rare four-pointer from Ryan Bailey.
It was honours even last season as the Rhinos won the Headingley fixture by 30-6 while losing in Perpignan by 18-38.
Leeds have won eleven of the fifteen meetings between the two sides, the Catalans picking up just four victories. That said, we've lost two out of the last three in Perpignan, and we never travel well, or play well on a saturday!
I think that the loss of McGuire, coupled with the 'resting' of Burrow, and the long trip to Perpignan will all combine to make this a game that we can't win. Even the bookies are giving us a ten point start on the coupon, and the loss of McGuire has also seen us slip out to 2/1 to win the Carnegie Challenge Cup.
The weather is going to get pretty warm down in the south of France tomorrow, topping out in the low thirtees and with very little chance of rain.
I hope that those who have made the trip have a good one, and that the lads can overcome the odds and pick up the points to keep us fourth.
Enjoy the game.