Blueys eagerly awaited first squad of the new season contains both close seasons signings (one last years close season) in Eastwood and Delaney. Delaney has looked good in pre-season and Eastwood has been given the all clear by the specialist after arriving injured. Delaney slots into the squad in the place of the departed Lee Smith and will join fellow Aussies Buderus, now fully recovered from the injury that kept him out of the latter part of 2009, and second-rower Greg Eastwood.
The one big surprise is the absence of GB captain Jamie Peacock from the named nineteen. There has been no talk of injury or illness so the only conclusion can be that McClennan thinks that we have the firepower and that Jamie deserves one more week out of the intensity of Superleague. I'll bet that was an interesting discussion with the passionate prop forward!
The nineteen is; Webb, Donald, Delaney, Senior, Hall, McGuire, Burrow, Leuluai, Buderus, Jones-Buchanan, Lauitiiti, Sinfield, Diskin, Eastwood, Bailey, Kirke, Ablett, Burgess, and Watkins, with two of the last four likely to be the ones missing out.
After abject failure at Wigan Warriors the new man in charge of the 'Welshies' is Rhinos nemesis Brian Noble. It's been all-change for the Crusaders who are a totally different club to the one that we faced last season. There are a couple of ex-Rhinos in the side with Lupton and Thackray taking on their ex-team mates.
The nineteen named by Noble for his first competitive game in charge includes eight debutants and are; Youngquest, Mellars, Raynor, Witt, O'Hara, Withers, Bryant, Chan, Trimarchi, Dyer, Lee, Winternstein, Peek, Thackray, Flower, White, Kear, Lupton, and James.
Three down under Rhinos to watch;
The bookies are no longer wanting bets on the Rhinos finishing top in 2010 (odds on at 10/11) or winning the Grand Final (13/10). If you fancy an outside bet for the season we are 1000/1 to finish bottom of the pile.
This is the Crusaders second season in Superleague and whilst they racked up a couple of outstanding wins last season, the Rhinos had their number. We won last years games with an aggregate of 96-06 with a competitive 28-06 in early season and a massive 68-00 in the away fixture in August at Bridgend.
A repeat of the latter would do very nicely.
The game is heading for a sell-out as Wrexham gets a taste of the Superleague. The majority of those are local support which is an excellent sign for the game and the season and in the interests of the game I hope that the Crusaders do put up a fight and build some momentum. There are a lot of unknowns about the home side and they might just surprise everyone.
The bookies are giving the Crusaders a 24 point start and I expect that Leeds will cover that with some margin to spare.
It's good to be back.
The Predicitions Prize Money thread for sponsors 'bet' is now on taking both Leeds (-24) and Wakefield (-2) to cover the handicaps. This will yield £2.82 from our £1.00 bet. A tidy start to the seasons pot.
Drive safe and enjoy the game.