The decision to stage a non-event international on a weekend containing a full programme of Superleague and just a couple of hours before Rooney et al kick-off their soccer World Cup Campaign can only be classed as sheer lunacy. New England boss McNamara has increased the pressure on the Rhinos league campaign by initially selecting four Rhinos players (McGuire misses out through injury) for international duty, while ensuring all of his Bradford club players are available for their game on Sunday. Gary Hetherington compounded Leeds problems by not taking the option to postpone saturdays game, lets hope that it isn't a decision which comes back to haunt him, and us, later in the season.
Without the skipper, JP, Ryan Hall and the injured McGuire, Lauiti'iti and Burrow the travelling Rhinos squad looks very thin on the ground. Bluey will be looking to players like Webb, Senior, Buderus and Eastwood to carry through the six youngsters named in the nineteen of; Webb, Donald, Delaney, Senior, Leuluai, Buderus, Jones-Buchanan, Diskin, Eastwood, Bailey, Kirke, Ablett, Pitts, Amor, Ambler, McShane, Bush, Clarkson, and Smith. If we get out of this one with the points then it will have been a massive effort from the whole seventeen selected.
Brian McDermott has no need to worry about the international as he has no players even close to international duty. Fresh from walloping the Crusaders 50-22 last weekend the Harlequins coach has the luxury of naming an unchanged squad although his side is still missing their inspirational skipper Rob Purdham who is on compassionate leave following the murder of his brother in the Cumbrian shootings last week.
A side which showed great courage to give Brian Nobles side a Rugby League lesson will be looking to double up with a win over the weakened Giants and McDermott puts his faith in a nineteen of; Bryan, Clubb, Dorn, Ellis, Esders, Gale, Howell, Krasniqi, May, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Melling, O'Callaghan, Orr, Randall, Sharp, Temata, Ward, Wilkes, and Williamson.
Three Quins to watch;
When the Harlequins visited Headingley earlier in the season the Rhinos gave them a comprehensive hiding recording our biggest win of the season so far at 62-04 despite only leading by 14-04 at half time. On our last visit to the Stoop, in 2009, we also won comfortably by 48-14 although we had slipped up earlier in the season losing the Headingley fixture by 04-21.
Under normal circumstances you'd expect that this would be a fixture that we'd walk, but with the Rhinos squad missing six regular first teamers the game is almost too close to call. We are on the back of six straight wins and the 'Quins are a see-saw team who have shown a propensity to both lose and win heavily this season. I'm tipping a Leeds win, but it wouldn't surprise me if we came home without the spoils.
The weather tomorrow is forecast to be pretty decent with little chance of rain and temperatures in the late-teens. It should be a good one for open rugby, perhaps youth will be on our side.
Unfortunately this is one of those rare occasions where I can't make the game, we do have a reporter there but it will be monday evening before the full match report is up.
Travel safe and enjoy the game.