After missing out as eighteenth man last week at Widnes, it is likely that Chris McKenna will make a welcomed return to the side at Headingley. Barrie McDermott is likely to add some much-missed bulk to the front row after recovering from a minor injury (or punishment for missing a training session depending on which rumour you believe). Lee Smith missed out after impressing last week (for McKenna), and I'd expect that it will be Nick Scruton that makes way in the seventeen to allow McDermott back in. Apart from that, it is 'as you were', although Tony Smith will be hoping for a little more flair that we showed last week on the road.
It is true that John Sharp will be without some of his key players, although he has got strength in depth in his squad. Definitely out are Gene, Donlan, O'Hare, Evans and Reilly, all of whom will be missed. Late fitness tests will be given to DeVere and Thorman, but I expect them to play. If they don't, then Sharp has already thrown the towel in before a ball has been kicked.
Sharp gives debuts to youngsters Clayton and Hemmingway, and is likely to use the amusingly named Bolu Fagbourn at some point during tonights proceedings.
Three Giants to watch;
Over the past three rounds the Giants have faced Wigan, the Bulls and the Saints, having beaten the Warriors, but lost to the other two.
In the six meetings with the Rhinos at Headingley, Leeds have emerged as victors on every occasions with the record shattering 86-6 being the victory that sticks in the mind. The average margin of victory for games between the two at Headingley has been thirty-two points, exactly the start that the bookies have given the visitors.
In the one meeting so far this season, over at the Galpharm in early March, the Rhinos were comfortable 54-10 victors as Walker, McKenna and Mathers all collected braces and Kevin Sinfield kicked nine from nine. We have a track record of amassing a big score against the Giants, and tonight should be no exception.
I think that Leeds will beat the handicap quite easily, and if we can get a roll on, we could be looking at running in a cricket score. Be aware though that the last time I made such a prediction, we were humbled at home by the Wakefield Wildcats - you have been warned.
The weather forcast for tonight is pretty good, verging of shirt sleeve weather, so there is no excuse for not getting a 17k+ turnout for our first home league match since the beginning of the month.