The only change from the nineteen named last week is the replacement of the hapless Jordan Tansey with 'Young Rhino of the Year' Luke Burgess. I'd expect this to be the only change in the seventeen too as Hall and Kirke are left on the sidelines. It will not have taken Bluey much to montivate the lads this week who will have all been very disappointed with their performances last weekend, and who will all be looking to get another chance to take on the Saints in a weeks time.
Brian McClennan has referred to last weeks dour outing as a 'one off' and that one game doesn't make us a bad team. We know as well as he does that if the side take the field with the same confidence and determination that they did a month ago then we can make the 'underdogs' tag look ridiculous. To do that the coach will be relying on seventeen from; Webb, Donald, Senior, Smith, McGuire, Burrow, Leuluai, Diskin, Peacock, Jones-Buchanan, Ellis, Sinfield, Lauiti'iti, Bailey, Scruton, Kirke, Ablett, Hall, and Burgess.
Brian Nobles troops must be on a massive high after their convincing 50-26 win over this seasons surprise side the Catalan Dragons. To travel to the south of France, after a long hard season, and to put fifty past a side who had thrashed Warrington the week before is no mean feat. Wigan supporters will be desperate for a Grand Final appearance and a chance to emerge from the shadow cast by their near neighbours.
There are plenty of personal scores to settle. Mark Calderwood will be looking to punish his old employers in potentially his last game for the Cherry & Whites, Richie Mathers also has a score to settle and Gareth Hock is seekeing to play his way back into contention for a GB spot after his long suspension for man handling a referee.
The Wigan ninteen is the same as last week and has plenty of quality; Mathers, Calderwood, Goulding, Carmont, Richards, Barrett, Leuluai, Fielden, Higham, Paleaaesina, Hock, Bailey, Colbon, Coley, Hansen, Phelps, Tomkins, O'Carroll, and Smith.
Three Wiganers to watch;
Wigan took the Headingley Superleague spoils earlier in the season, thanks to an inconsistent refereeing performance, when they beat us 14-10 in a tense affair. We fought back for another close 23-16 win in the Challenge Cup at the end of May. And then, of course, there was the single point heartbreak at the JJB in July before that startling 52-16 win for the Rhinos in Wigan a month ago.
I'm going for a narrow Rhinos win, but I have to say that I am not massively confident. The usual fourteenth man in the SouthStand will be somewhat subdued as his voice has been muted by the drastic cut in capacity on safety grounds and that could mean that the usual cauldron like atmosphere is deadened. Leeds by a couple in a really tense affair.
The bookies are giving Wigan and eight point start and I'd wager that some clever money will be taking Wigan with that margin.
It looks like the weather will be fine with little chance of rain but the outside fear that there may be a bit 0f fog towards the end of the game..
This could, of course, be the end of the 2008 road for the Rhinos but fingers crossed we'll make it past one of our bogey teams and get to the ultimate goal next week at Old Trafford.