The superstitious amongst you may well be dreading games on friday the thirteenths, and concerned that this is the first of two in twenty-eight days. On friday the 13th March we will be at home again, then we'll be up against the Wigan Warriors.
One Leeds player who will be looking forward to Friday the 13th, is new signing Danny Buderus who will hopefully be making his Rhinos debut after recovering from a bicep injury earlier than originally anticipated. Bluey also welcomes Ryan Bailey back into his squad after he missed out last week. On the down side is the continued omission of Rob Burrow, whose spark was noticibly absent last week, and Keith Senior who picked up a knock in the win over the Crusaders.
The squad is; Donald, Smith, Hall, Mcguire, Leuleui, Buderus, Peacock, Jones-Buchanan, Lauiti'iti, Sinfield, Diskin, Kirke, Ablett, Bailey, Burgess, Gibson, Watkins, Allan, and Manning. Expect Manning and possibly Watkins to miss out, so long as Buderus is available for the seventeen.
It has been a shocking off season for the Wakefield Wildcats. Adam Watene died so suddenly in October last season and that was a massive blow for the club, players and supporters. John Kear has been out of action after a hip replacement in November which kept him away from Belle Vue for a while. Jamie Rooney had a major injury setback when his heart stopped during pre-op, forcing surgeons to abandon minor knee surgery, and a couple of days ago it was announced that Wildcats prop Richard Moore is suffering from a dabilitating illness, Crohns disease, which will keep him out of the game for some time.
John Kear has named his squad as; Blaymire, Blanch, Martin, Atkins, Demetriou, Drew, Snitch, Wilkes, Grix, Obst, Stosic, Bibey, Henderson, Gleeson, Halley, Ferguson, Bibb, Pitts, and Blake. Plenty of familiar names and a sprinkling of new ones.
Three Wildcats to watch;
We have, of course, already lost to the Wildcats this season. The Festive Challenge saw the Rhinos youngsters lose by 22-16 when we simply ran out of time.
There were three league meetings last season, and the Rhinos won all three matches. In September, Leeds won 30-12 at Belle Vue, as they had done by 44-08 in February. In the last league meeting at Headingley the Rhinos ran out as 58-12 winners partly thanks to a McGuire hat-trick.
I'm tipping us to take the points but I suspect that it will be far closer than any of last seasons matches. We're looking rusty with a few crucial injuries and the Wildcats have the team solidarity that would see them give anyone a game.
Todays forecast sees the chance of rain and the temperature hovering just above freezing all day. The fixture appears to be in no risk, unless the temperature drops and that rain turns to snow..
The bookies have given the Wildcats an 16 point start on the coupon which I think is fairly generous. The Wildcats are 7/1 for an outright win with Leeds being 1/14.
Lets hope for a bigger turnout than last week with the western terrace being back open and hopefully full of Wakey fans making the short trip to see if their team can topple the Rhinos from their lofty perch by winning for the first time in the league since July 2007.
See you there.