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SLXI Starts Here!
Posted by southstander on February 10 2006 - 15:31:05


Come three o'clock on friday, it will be one hundred and nineteen days and nineteen hours since the Rhinos last went into a tackle in competitive anger.

Players batteries have been recharged, the coach has experimented with pre-season formations, and the fans have drawn their conclusions about our strength in depth.

This is it...this is the start of Superleague XI...are you ready?

The Rhinos start their campaign with what would normally be considered a sure-fire home banker against the Huddersfield Giants. The Giants are bolstered by the signature of a new saviour in Bradford reject Robbie Paul, and with the biggest front line in Superleague they will test our strength in the pack. This is no gimme for Leeds, and the bookies have been particularly cruel in giving us the biggest handicap of the weekend.

The Rhinos are more-or-less at full strength, with only Matt O'Neill being unavailable to coach Smith. Shirts one to thirteen are likely to start the game with Poching, JJB, Feather and Millard on the bench. Ablett and Gibson will almost certainly miss out, by Scruton and Feather could be interchangeable for the last spot on the bench.

The Giants are a difficlut side to fathom and you always wonder if this will be the season that they 'click' and push for a top six place. They've shed a load of mediocre players over the winter, and taken on a few with great potential. I've always liked Stephen Wild and Martin Aspinwall and their signature for the Giants is almost as surprising as their release by Wigan. Robbie Paul is the 'star' signing, but is joined by Albert Torrens (St. george), Andy Raleigh (Hull KR), Steve Snitch (Wildcats) and our very own Matt Gardner. With McDonald, Crabtree and Grayshon up front, they will be a formidible force against any opposition this season.

Pre-season teaches us very little, after all we lost to Hunslet and Oldham, however, the Giants registered losses against Bradford and Wigan whilst just scraping past Castleford.

Three Giants (literally) to watch;

Big Wayne

Long Jim

Giant Eorl

The Giants have never beaten the Rhinos as Headingley during the Superleague era, and last seasons 44-14 win was one of two victories in the year. Prediction
Rhinos 38 22 Giants

The Rhinos play their one traditional home sunday sfternoon game in what promises to be a capacity (reduced) crowd of just over 16,000. There were just 500 South Stand tickets left today and these will surely be snapped up before kick-off. The Rhinos administration will be keeping their fingers crossed that the new card entry system works, because the bad press they will get if it fails will be stinging!

There are showers forcast for sunday morning but they are due to clear by lunchtime. It will be fairly cold though, especially for those without the shelter of the SouthStand roof.

It should be a great game, and I don't think it will be as one-sided as some of the media do. Enjoy the game, and don't forget the presentation evening on monday night. There is just a few more hours to get your predictions in in the tipping competition.



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