Matt Diskin and Carl Ablett take a break this week but with the Rhinos welcoming back Kylie Leuluai it looks like Brian McClennan is taking no chances of the Champions being on the receiving end of what would be one of the all-time cup shocks. Rob Burrow is out for up to three months with knee ligament damage and that will be a massive blow for the Rhinos as he appeared to be returning to form after an off colour start to the season.
Blackpool are flying high at the top of their own league and disposed of Whitehaven from the division above them in the last round. They will come to Headingley with no expectations of getting a result and hoping to enjoy a great day out, the perfect conditions within which a giant-killing can occur.
Clarkson, fresh from his first Leeds try against the Wildcats last weekend, and Michael Coady are both named in the strong ninteen of; Webb, Hall, Delaney, Senior, McGuire, Leuluai, Buderus, Peacock, Jones-Buchanan, Lauiti'iti, Sinfield, Bailey, Kirke, Burgess, Pitts, Coady, Ambler, Clarkson, and Smith. I expect that it will be a couple of the youngsters that miss out, but don't be surprised if Blueys confidence gets the better of him closer to kick-off and a couple of the more senior players are omitted.
The Panthers are unbeaten in the league this season with seven wins in seven outings. They won two out of four of their Northern Rail Cup games including a 74-6 win over Gateshead and don't forget that cup win against Whitehaven. They are without doubt a form team, playing against a Rhinos side struggling for form of their own.
Coach Martin Crompton has not yet named his side, but his team is pretty settled and will look to build on a close victory over South Wales last weekend.
Three Panthers to watch;
There have only been nine meetings between these two sides in over 100 years, the last one being twenty-seven years ago so this meeting was well overdue. Leeds have won on seven occasions and lost twice, the last loss being by a side which contained current Leeds Chief Executive Gary Hetherington. The last Challenge Cup meeting was forty-three years ago in 1967 when the Loiners won by 15-3.
In this case, history will teach us nothing.
There is no denying that the Panthers form so far this season has been excellent and they will be confident of performing on friday night. Leeds should still have plenty, despite recent shakey performances.
With entry at just a tenner, hopefully the Leeds public will turn up in nnumbers and create a good atmosphere to show the Panthers what top flight rugby is all about. I fear a crowd of well under 10,000 will actually make it through the turnstiles.
The forcast for tomorrow is light rain and feeling pretty chilly - it should be lilke home from home for the visitors!
Blackpool have been given a sixty-two point start on the coupon, and it is a long time since I have written that. I think that this is a bit harsh on the Lancastrians and with them firing on all cylinders and the Rhinos still struggling for form I think that it will be a bit closer than that.
See you there and enjoy the game.