The great news to start the preview is that Brent Webb is back in the squad, despite SKY reports last weekend that he was looking at a long recouperation. Whether he will get a game is another matter as the Rhinos look to make it five in a row and keep up the pressure on a Saints side looking increasingly battle scarred. Last weeks early domination of Hull almost ended in disaster as the Airlie Birds fought back and gave us a scare, we'd better keep our eye on the ball this week.
With the exception of the return of Webb, Bluey has named an unchanged side of; Webb, Donald, Smith, Senior, Hall, McGuire, Burrow, Leuluai, Buderus, Peacock, Jones-Buchanan, Lauitiiti, Sinfield, Diskin, Ablett, Burgess, Gibson, Worrall, and Ratu. I would expect that this week it will be Worrall and Ratu that miss out, but it could be that Gibson will end oup a water carrier.
Belle Vue (or whatever it is called this week) will be buzzing over the signing of Terry Newton for 2010, but tinged with sadness that this means the likely departure of favourite Drew. Ex-hero Jamie Rooney is now on loan in Cumbria after struggling to get back into form following injury and Wakefield have Korkidas back in their ranks following a loan exchange deal with Huddersfield for Danny Sculthorpe. John Kear has always been able to get his sides up for a one off game and his ninteen for tonight is full of experience. He names; Blaymire, Atkins, Peterson, Brough, Demetriou, Drew, Snitch, Wilkes, Grix, Obst, Stosic, Bibey, Henderson, Gleeson, Leo-Latu, Korkidas, Ferguson, Moore, and Murphy.
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. In the 'real' league encounter at Headingley in round 2 we won comfortably by 18-4 when our forwards dominated.
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.
The last Leeds loss in Wakefield was seventeen years ago when we lost by a solitary point. That is fourteen consecutive Leeds wins.
I'm tipping us to take the points with some ease, beating the bookies handicap. We are flying high, but with the potential to have quiet spells, whereas the Wildcats will be smarting badly from defeat in last weeks derby against the Giants. We should have the class to get home comfortably.
Todays forecast is that there is very little chance of rain and that the temperature will be very pleasant, even towards the end of the game holding in the mid-teens. Quite a contrast to the snow and wind when the 'Cats visited us earlier in the year.
See you there and enjoy the game.