After a long, long wait the Rhinos and their supporters look likely to welcome back Superman Brent Webb to the side although it is still possible that he'll be one of the named nineteen to miss out. Matt Diskin and Ian Kirke both return after missing the trip to the Helliwell-Jones last week but Keith Senior spend another week sitting on the sidelines (and making the national press with his e-bay exploits) after picking up a shoulder injury in the World Club Challenge.
The side is now looking to have a lot more strength to it with just Buderus and Senior missing from what would be Blueys first choice seventeen. The youngsters have done us proud and the likes of Watkins, McShane and Allen undoubtedly have a great Leeds future ahead of them. The nineteen is; Webb, Donald, Smith, Hall, McGuire, Burrow, Leuluai, Peacock, Jones-Buchanan, Lauitiiti, Sinfield, Diskin, Bailey, Kirke, Ablett, Burgess, Gibson, Allan, and Watkins. I got my 'two to miss out' hopelessly wrong last week, so ignore me if I plump for Allen and Gibson this week.
Brian Noble loves playing the Rhinos and whether it be Bradford or Wigan he alsways seems to get his site to rise to the occasion. This guy has been the reason for more depressed drives home than I care to remember.
He has been able to name an unchanged side from that which humiliated his old side, the Bulls, a short six days ago. His nineteen is; Roberts, Carmont, Richards, Smith, Leuluai, Fielden, Riddell, Paleaaesina, Hock, Bailey, O'Loughlin, Tomkins, Coley, Hansen, McIlorum, Pryce, O'Carroll, Tomkins, and Ainscough. Plenty of big, and emerging, stars there to give us a run for our money.
Three Warriors to watch;
Leeds played the Warriors five times last season, three in the league, the Challenge Cup, and the play-offs. In the three games at Headingley Leeds won two and lost one, and at the JJB is was honours shared. The aggregate over the five games was 125-73 to Leeds, somewhat skewed by the 52-16 win at the JJB in August. The average was 25-15 to Leeds but this masks the 22-23 and 10-14 losses, the latter of which was on the first meeting of the season at Headingley.
Leeds have won on the last two occasions that the sides have met, and when it really counted in the Challenge Cup and Play-offs the honours went to the Rhinos on both occasions.
I think that with Superman back, and Diskin fully fit, we'll be a different side to that which just managed to hold on at Warrington last week. I expect a Leeds win, but for the visitors to give us a run for our money. I've tipped an eight point winning margin with Tad thinking we'll do it by 10 and Oldham Rhino tipping the visitors to take the spoils.
The forecast for friday night is for some light rain but hopefully it will hold off and we'll have a great night of flowing rugby as two sides who can play a bit mix it up. This weeks sweepstake is on which minute Peacock will throw his first punch.
The bookies haven't put our odds up yet but I'd expect that the Warriors would be getting four to six points start, anything more would be an insult.
Hopefully it will be a big Headingley crowd to welcome back Brent Webb but the main topic of conversation is likely to be that Challenge Cup draw.
Don't forget the curtain raiser as the Rhinos Reserve Grade entertain the Warriors with a 5.45pm kick off.
See you there.