The Giants are sat level top of the league, with the seasons dark horses Castleford Tigers. They visit Headingley on the back of a massive win over Tony Smith Warrington pretenders and take on a Rhinos side low on both confidence and players. Despite the bookies making the Rhinos the favourites most neutrals will be expecting the Giants to continue their winning ways.
The increasingly embattled McDermott has lost the services of Carl Ablett through suspension but Delaney and Leuluai are back in the squad after weeks off through injury. Lee Smith is also named in the nineteen after appearing to break down in last weeks loss at Craven Park, whether he will actually figure is a different matter. We're promised that Jamie Peacock and Danny McGuire are within a few weeks of returning and it will be a massive relief when they do.
This week Big Mac is relying on the following seventeen to try and save our blushes; Webb, Smith, Delaney, Senior, Hall, Burrow, Leuluai, Buderus, Jones-Buchanan, Sinfield, Cross, Bailey, Kirke, Burgess, Watkins, Hauraki, Clarkson, Pitts, and McShane. I suspect that it will be Smith and Pitts who don't make the seventeen.
Giants supremo Nathan Brown claims that history means nothing and that tonights game will be settled with eighty minutes of present. And he's probably right.
The Giants have some injury problems of their own with Mason and Releigh both unavailable for selection. That said, Brown has built a team who play for one another and there are 100% triers to step into the shoes of the absentees. He's even managed to tame Danny Brough and turn him into a team player.
His nineteen is named as; Grix, Lawrence, Cudjoe, Gilmour, Hodgson, Brown, Brough, Crabtree, Robinson, Griffin, O'Donnell, Faiumu, Lunt, Kirmond, Patrick, Horne, McGillvary, Simpson, and Ferguson. Danger men all over the pitch!
Three Giants to keep an eye on;
Leeds recorded their biggest ever winning margin at home in Superleague over the Giants in 1999. An eighty-six to six win came in a season when the Rhinos finished third in Superleague (and won the Challenge Cup) and in which Huddersfield finished the season propping up the league table. How times have changed.
Last season the Rhinos almost lost their fifty-one year winning record as we scrambled a 21-20 home win after we'd already lost 20-26 earlier in the season at the Galpharm. It was a slilghtly bigger win in 2009 and three seasons ago we won the game at Headingley by a comfortable 46-8. What we'd give for a scoreline like that tonight?
Hand on heart I have to admit that I am pessimistic about tonight and can see us dropping another two points. Were lacking the players, tactics and passion to get the win and I can potentially see us being overwhelmed by a well coached and enthusiastic Giants side. Many of you will know that I have made my home in Huddersfield and I'm in for so much stick tomorrow if we get beaten. I pray that I am wrong with my prediction.
Tonights weather looks great with temperatures still in the teens as we approach kick-off. There will be no weather excuses for either side.
Travel safe and enjoy the game.