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Time for 'Big Mac'!
Posted by southstander on January 21 2005 - 08:34:09

Loyal Servant
After a break of three weeks, tonight the Rhinos take to the field for a very special occasion. To celebrate ten years of loyal service to the Rhinos, Barrie McDermott has been granted a testimonial season and tonights game against Oldham is the first event in a fun packed calender in which SouthStander.com will play a full role.

Barrie has surrounded himself with a strong pack which includes Wayne McDonald, Willie Poching, Liam Botham, and Chris Feather. Gareth Ellis makes his Rhinos debut, which in itself should add a couple of thousand to the gate.

Many people will look down the team sheet for tonights game, see a side where the play-makers are all senior academy players, and think 'Why should I bother going?'. Those that do are missing the point.

Tonight is not about the Leeds side, it's not about the opposition and it's not even about 80 minutes of rugby, it is about saying thank you to a great servant to the Rhinos. Admittedly it would have been nice to have been playing Bradford or Wigan, and having this game as a last real warm-up for the World Club Challenge would have meant a bumper crowd, but fate conspired against the big man.

I've always admired Barrie McDermott, and although he has a somewhat chequered past, he has always given 110% for the Rhinos. His skill and determination have been recognised with honours at the highest level in the game with caps for Ireland (whom he captained) and Great Britain. He came back from what could have been a career ending injury in 1997, and played a part in the Challenge Cup winning side of 1999, and the Superleague winning side of 2004.

His home town Oldham accepted the challenge to take part in the testimonial game. The part-timers, most of whom hold down day-jobs, do themselves proud just by turning up tonight. You will all recognise the name of their coach, twice Headingley favourite Gary Mercer, and they are likely to have ex-Wigan star Simon Haughton in their ranks for tonights game. Three Cook Islanders should give the game an international feel. They will come expecting a beating, but I think that it will be a close one.

Rhinos youngsters we get to have another look at tonight;


Nick
Scruton

Scott
Murrell

Lee
Smith

The half-time entertainment should be fun with a Dads v. Lads game refereed by SKY's Bill Arthur. Danny McGuire, Kevin Sinfield and Rob Burrow will star for the Dads up against a Lads side captained by Barries son Billy.

The forcast is for light rain but at only a tenner to get in (£5 for concessions) what is stopping you getting down there are giving Barrie your support?

I suspect that it will be a close game, although Oldham are struggling to get a side together, and I back the Rhinos to scrape a narrow victory.

Southstander.com Prediction
Rhinos 28 24 Oldham

See you all there. Match report will be up on site sometime tonight.

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