The Rhinos have lost the services of TMFMISL for three weeks following a ludicrous decision by the RFL disciplinary to suspend him for 'Deliberate physical contact with a match official' when he pushed Silverwood out of the way in an attempt and defend his line from a Warrington attack. Baileys absence opens the door to Richard Moore and I expect that he will get his second run-out for the Rhinos tonight.
Ian Kirke and Paul McShane are the other players to be added to last weeks victorious seventeen as the Rhinos look to build on an impressive start to the season. An upset at the Galpharm tonight with Castleford emerging victorious over the league leaders would mean that a decent margin Leeds win could put them top of the table. Perhaps too many 'ifs and buts' but it doesn't hurt to dream.
Jamie Jones-Buchanan continues to recouperate from injury and Lee Smith must be suspecting that he'll never run out for the Rhinos again as he fails to get a sniff of the nineteen which consists of; Webb, Jones-Bishop, Watkins, Hardaker, Hall, McGuire, Burrow, Leuluai, McShane, Peacock, Ablett, Sinfield, Delaney, Kirke, Clarkson, Griffin, Moore, Pitts, and Hood. I suspect that McShane and Kirke or Pitts will miss out tonight and I think that supersub Hood may get more game time against what should be weaker opposition.
Phil Veivers has a confident side on his hands who have quietly lifted themselves to seventh in the table thanks to wins over Widnes, Hull FC and London Broncos. Last week they crashed to the Dragons in Perpignan, but they will fancy their chances over a Rhinos side that they have run pretty close over the last few seasons.
Joel Moon is out with a fresh injury to the hand that he broke earlier in the year but Vinnie Anderson is back in contention after not making last weeks game in France. Ex-Rhinos Gibson and Williams will be looking for some try scoring joy against their old employers and the nineteen for the home side looks to have a more balaned shape than Reds sides of previous seasons.
Veivers has named his squad as; Patten, Gibson, Gleeson, Williams, Veivers, Holdsworth, Smith, Jewitt, Anderson, James, Ashurst, McPherson, Wild, Nero, Adamson, Owen, Howarth, Paleaaesina, and Boyle.
Three Reds to keep an eye on;
Played 28, won 27, lost 1. It's a pretty decent record for the Rhinos against the Reds during the Superleague era with just that one blemish at Headingley on the 13th April 2009 when we went down by 20-30 after too many Rhinos synchronised one of their worst games of the season.
We've fared much better since then with five consecutive wins, although those over in Salford have been a lot closer than we'd have liked. Salford got close to us last year with Leeds emerging as 30-22 victors. In 2010 we won by 31-22 and a year earlier we scraped a 30-24 victory. It's not been a walk in the park and the Reds will be equally as determined for tonights game.
In recent seasons Leeds have always seemed to do just enough to get the away win over the Reds, and tonight I hope that we'll be able to get the two points with more ease, but I doubt it.
I am looking forward to the new Stadium but with some tredipation at what the outcome will be. We should have the players, skills and momentum to get the win but this could just be Salfords night to end their home hoodoo. I think it will be a close and hard fought game and could be quite a spectacle.
The forecast suggests that it should remain fine for the game but there is rain moving in and there is an outside chance that it might start raining before tonights events are complete.
The bookies have given the Reds a twelve point start and I think that is a little generous, by 10pm we'll know.
Travel safe, check out the Rhinos and Reds websites for ticket and parking information, and see you there. Lets get behind the lads and cheer them up to at least second place in Superleague.