Jamie Peacock is a casualty (knee) of last weeks visit to Perpignan and whilst I understand that he could have played if pushed, Tony Smith rests him for tonights match. Good news for Rhinos fans, and the coach, is the return from injury of Gareth Ellis. Mark O'Neill is still on the injured list, but close to a comeback in the next couple of weeks. Jamie Jones-Buchanan was initially named in the Rhinos twenty but dropped out of the eighteen as he is not 100% recovered, as did Danny Williams. Of the eighteen named I'd expect that either Ablett or Kirke will be the one to miss out, most likely the former.
Karl Harrison must be pinching himself to check that he is not dreaming. His side have made a tremendous start to Superleague XI and are currently in fourth place, four points ahead of Hull in fifth. Four wins out of five games, including the scalps of Warrington and Wigan, is a record spoiled only by a heavy loss away at the Bulls. The Reds have a pretty tasty looking side, assembled on the quiet, who could give us a good run for our money. Their twenty is; Fitzpatrick, Hodgson, Moule, Stewart, Dunemann, Robinson, Coley, Alker, Finnigan, Sibbit, Charles, Highton, Langi, Haggerty, Littler, Clough, Baldwin, Brocklehurst, Clayton, and Jonkers.
Salford fans will be travelling in numbers with hope in their hearts for tonights game, rather than their usual 'resigned to a loss' manner. Confidence is sky high in the Reds camp, and Harrison will not have mentioned the shocking record against Leeds at any point during the build up. For the record Leeds have won all seventeen matches including the away nilling in SLIX; have a points difference aggregate of almost +400; and have run in over 600 points in seventeen games. History may well count for nothing tonight.
Three Devils to watch;
All the signs are that this will be a classic and both sides will be looking to make up ground on whoever loses the Saints v. Bulls game, which is also taking place tonight. Whichever side wins tonights tussle at the Carnegie Headingley Stadium will probably find themselves in second place when the league table is calculated after tonights clashes.
I am confident that the Rhinos can keep their current run against the Reds going and get the two points, however, I think that it will be a very close match which could see us still biting our nails with ten minutes to go.
Headingley should be heading for the 16,660 sell out once again, especially with Salford expected to bring over more than their usual handful. After rain all day, it will be close to freezing tonight, so wrap up warm.
The Reds have been given a twenty point start on the coupon which I think is underestimating the challenge that they pose to the Rhinos. Having said that, I think that we really clicked for the first time in Perpignan and put on the most professional performance that I have seen this year. The bookies don't often get it very wrong, but I'd still be taking the Reds with a twenty point start.
There are just a few more hours to get your predictions in in the tipping competition.