After resting Sinfield, Delaney, Moon, Briscoe, Bailey and Peacock last week, all but Bailey are named in the ninteen for the trip over the Pennines to take on the table toppers. Baileys absence is puzzling, and the Rhinos are remaining tight lipped about the reason, despite a number of internet rumours.
The youngsters performed well last week against the woeful Broncos and will have taken great confidence from a convincing win. It was also a great outcome for the coach who now knows that he has players who can put in a big performance even when not surrounded by the regular household names.
Friday night against Saints is a whole different ball game and I'd expect to see all five returnees playing a major part as we look to step ahead of the league leaders and take top spot after a quarter of the season.
McDermott names his nineteen as; Hardaker, Jones-Bishop, Watkins, Moon, Hall, McGuire, Burrow, Leuluai, Aiton, Peacock, Jones-Buchanan, Ablett, Sinfield, Ward, Delaney, Kirke, Achurch, Briscoe and Singleton.
Nathan Brown must be frantically searching for four leaf clovers as despite his sides lofty Superleague position he is having to do it the hard way with a rash of injuries and disciplinary problems.
Walsh, Turner, Manu and Walmsley are all recovering from injury problems while McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Amor and Wilkin are all serving suspensions. Some good news for the Saints coach will be the return of young centre Percival, and he will be looking to a half-back pairing of Wheeler and Hohaia to run the show as his side look to go three points clear at the top.
His full squad is; Lomax, Makinson, Jones, Swift, Hohaia, Masoe, Roby, Soliola, Laffranchi, Flanagan, Wellens, Percival, Greenwood, Wheeler, Walker, Dawson, Richards, Charnock and Savelio.
Both Saints and the Rhinos are unbeaten in 2014, and the visitors trail the home side by the point that they dropped in the away draw at Huddersfield. Both teams are looking hard to beat and this one really is too close to call.
Saints have had the best of regular round Superleague fixtures winning twenty-four of the forty-two games played since the start of the summer era. When you add in play-off and Challenge Cup games, the figures are much closer.
Leeds won the last meeting between the sides, that sensational 11-10 play-off victory at Headingley last September. During the regular rounds it was honours shared with Saints winning the Headingley game by 22-30 and the Rhinos taking the spoils by 20-12 earlier in the season at Langtree Park.
Both sides are unbeaten in their last six outings.
The bookies fancy the Rhinos to end the weekend at the top of Superleague and have given the Saints a six point start on the coupon. Without the handicap Saints are 2/1 for the win with the Rhinos clear favourites at 2/5. As always there is better value in first try scorer with three Rhinos, Hall (6/1), Briscoe (13/2) and Jones-Bishop (15/2) the favourites.
The forecast for Friday night is for it to be pretty chilly with a chance of rain, not ideal conditions for flowing rugby, but you know whay happens to the Saints when they play us in the rain.
Travel safe and enjoy the match...