Wigan currently sit at the top of the pile thanks to last weeks acrimonious win over the Saints, a game which cost them Hock, Tuson and Mossop. In addition to the 'bad boys' the Cherry & Whites are
also without Prescott, Hansen and Flower through recent injuries and when you add in Richards they look like a side who are down to the bare bones. But 'beware the wounded tiger'. Sides often
muscle up and defy the odds when their backs are against the wall.
The Rhinos didn't escape Manchester unscathed and have lost Watkins to another injury, just a game and a half into his comeback.
With Kallums absence, Ben Jones-Bishop must be back in the reckoning and beyond his inclusion in the seventeen I can't really see much reason to change either the side or the game plan from that
which worked so effectively last week against the Bulls. Hopefully Lunt will get the start at hooker and Robbie will cause mischief once introduced into a game with tiring forwards.
Big Mac names his nineteen as; Webb, Jones-Bishop, Hardaker, Hall, McGuire, Burrow, Leuluai, Peacock, Jones-Buchanan, Ablett, Sinfield, L. Smith, Delaney, Bailey, Clarkson, Hauraki, Griffin, Moore,
Shaun Wane 'like coming to Headingley' according to comments on the SKY Sports website, lets hope he re-appraises his position after tonights game.
He has been forced to introduce a whole raft of youngsters for tonights game including Rhodri Lloyd, Jack Hughes, Tom Spencer, Logan Tomkins, Dom Crosby and Jack Murphy. The last time he put out
such an inexperienced side the Warriors came a cropper at Widnes, Wanes' most embarrassing game in charge so far.
The Warriors nineteen is; S. Tomkins, Charnley, Goulding, Carmont, Finch, Leuluai, McIlorum, O'Loughlin, Lima, Farrell, Lauaki, Dudson, Gelling, L. Tomkins, Crosby, Hughes, Murphy, Spencer, and
Lloyd. It is a side which still has plenty of danger and which could cause us a lot of damage. We will need to keep 'Rat Boy', Leuluai and Carmont quiet if we are to have a chance of the two
Three pie eaters to keep an eye on;
The visit to the DW Stadium, the week before we became World Champions, is probably better forgotten as it resulted in a 6-20 defeat.
All three games between the sides in 2011 were close affairs. The seasons first meeting was at Headingley and saw the Rhinos grasp a draw from the jaws of victory with a final scoreline of 22-22. In July the two sides met at the DW with Wigan emerging narrow victors by 24-26 and in the final meeting between the sides was at Wembley when poor refereeing cost us a trophy and gave a final scoreline of 18-28.
Leeds have won seven and drawn two of the last twenty regular season games against the Warriors, more telling is just two wins in the last ten, a balance which we need to start re=addressing tonight.
I'm going for a narrow Leeds win, and before last weekend cost Wane a good proportion of his pack, I'd have tipped a Wigan victory. The bookies concur with my assessment and have given the Warriors a four point start on the coupon. This might be the night to lump on the handicap draw and leave Headingley with a massive smile on your face.
There is a small chance of rain tonight and then it looks as though it might turn a little chilly, so worth a brolly and a coat (how old am I sounding?).
Injuries and the disciplinary have levelled the playing field and we should be in for an absolute cracker. I can't wait.
See you there.