After staring with one to thirteen last week, there is every chance that Tony Smith will play the same starting line-up again tonight. The only absentee is Mark O'Neill, still missing with the shoulder injury that he picked up on Boxing Day. I'd also expect the bench to be the same as last week, with Feather losing out to Scruton.
Perhaps the biggest point of interest today will be the home debut of ex-Rhino Mark Calderwood. Tony Smith will be wary of the flying winger, who has a massive point to prove against his former employer. Ultimately, Calderwood did not want to leave the Rhinos, but an increased wage demand forced Hetheringtons hand and he let the player leave. Lee Smith and Scott Donald, both of whom had big games last week, will be the key to a Rhinos victory.
Millward has vowed to stick with the same thirteen, who lost in somewhat controversial circumstances, at the Stade Aime Giral last weekend. In addition to Calderwood, four other Cherry & Whites will make their home debuts. The Wigan outfit are still without Hock, Radlinski and Fletcher are not available for selection, but there are still plenty of star names to irritate the Rhinos. Cadlerwood, Vaealiki, Dallas, Orr, Higham, Tickle, O'Loughlin and SeuSeu will all figure for the home side.
The three matches last season teach us very little about what we can expect tonight. In the first game at the JJB in April, the Rhinos won 38-14 in a match which saw the punch-up between McDermott and Seu Seu. When Wigan visited Headingley in mid-June they left humiliated after a 70-0 hiding which saw five Rhinos player picking up a brace each. The last meeting between the two sides was back at the JJB in early September when the home side scraped a 24-22 win over a Rhinos side that was starting to get into a losing habit at the wrong end of the season.
Three Warriors to watch;
There is no way of telling which way the points will go tonight. I have to admit that Leeds look weaker in the pack, and on the wings, so will rely on the skill and guile of McGuire, Burrow and Sinfield. The bookies have made Leeds slight favourites at 8/13 and we give the Warriors a four point start on the coupon. I agree that they wont be far away and can't see either side winning it by more than 10 points.
There should be a good crowd at the JJB tonight, especially as it is Wigans first home fixture. Some of the home 'faithful' will have been put off by last weeks loss in France, but the Rhinos travelling support will bolster the gate.
Any rain is forcast to die away by lunchtime leaving a dry and pleasant evening. You're under cover anyway, so what are you worried about?
There are just a few more hours to get your predictions in in the tipping competition.