Jamie Jones-Buchanan picked up a long-term injury in last weeks win which required minor surgery during the week and could see him side-lined for up to twelve weeks, while we've plenty of cover, this could lead to a major re-organisation which would see Burrow and McGuire in the halves with Sinfield back at loose forward and McShane getting his first start to the season at hooker. I don;t think that this will be the case as Hauraki will likely just take over Jones-Buchanans role.
Ben Jones-Bishop seemed to do more than enough to retain his spot and a back line of Hall, Watkins, Hardaker and Jones-Bishop which many thought wouldn't be able to match the Sea Eagles proved that they could well be robust enough to get us through the season. If we play as smart, tackle as hard, and show as much determination as we did last friday night then we won't loose too many more this season. I'm not, however, convinced that we can maintain that work-rate, there are bound to be blips.
Big Mac has named a nineteen of; Webb, Jones-Bishop, Watkins, Hardaker, Hall, McGuire, Burrow, Leuluai, McShane, Peacock, Ablett, Sinfield, Delaney, Bailey, Kirke, Hauraki, Griffin, Moore, and Pitts. Personally I'd like to see Richard Moore get his first run out of the season.
The Vikings have shipped in an average of forty-five points a game while scoring just thirteen. When you look through their squad it does seem to be full of players who simply wouldn't make the final seventeen of any of the top half a dozen sides (there's a nice quote for Mr Betts to paste on the home team dressing room ahead of Sundays game).
Anthony Watts and Ben Kavanagh have both picked up early season injuries, neither attributed to the iPitch, and will be out for a considerable length of time. Dennis Betts must be wondering how he needs to shuffle his side to get some kind of performance out of them, or perhaps why he accepted the job in the first place.
Betts has named a nineteen of; Ah Van, Allen, Briscoe, Cahill, Clarke, Craven, Cross, Davies, Finnigan, Flynn, Haggerty, Hanbury, Isa, Leuluai, Marsh, Mullally, Pickersgill, White, and Winterstein.
Three Vikings to keep an eye on;
'Saint' Steve Ganson is in the middle, but even his hatred of the Rhinos shouldn't be able to turn the game in the Vikings favour.
The Rhinos have played the Vikings eight times during the Super League era and have won on five occasions. The last time that the sides met was in Widnes on the 23rd April 2005 when the Rhinos won a tough encounter by 42-20 thanks to a couple of braces from Sinfield and Jones-Buchanan. Earlier in the season we'd won the home game by a record winning margin and a scoreline of 66-8 on a day when Mark Calderwood picked up four tries. Just three Rhinos that played that day are likely to take the field for Sundays 2pm kick-off, Sinfield, Burrow and Bailey (McGuire was out with a groin injury and JJB played that day but will miss out this time).
The iPitch has caused some controversy so far this season and apparently both sides have been granted dispensation to wear protective leg coverings. It wouldn't be the scratches and scrapes I'd be worried about, it would be the longer term muscle rips and tears (not attributable to the iPitch). Cross everything that we come through the game without picking up any injuries.
There can only be one winner of this. Even a Rhinos side without a couple of regular first-teamers, still recovering from the hard knocks of last friday, and still nursing the sore head of World Championship celebration, should have too much fire-power for a lack-lustre Vikings. I predict a big Rhinos win, and hope that nothing crazy happens.
Sundays' forecast is for a cloudy day with a small chance of a bit of rain. It could also be a bit nippy so put away the shorts and t-shirt.
This is one of those rare occassions where I can't make the game, we've got a guest reporter lined up to bring you the match report which should be on-site by monday morning. Travel safe and enjoy the game.