Tony Smith has named an unchanged seventeen for the opener, the same lads who lifted the World Club Challenge last friday night in front of 37,000 at Elland Road. The Hull atmosphere promises to be equally electric with the Airlie Birds hoping for 18,000+. Wayne McDonald travels as eighteenth man, but it is unlikely that he will play a part as the only doubt, Danny McGuire, has declared his fitness.
'Kear Named Coach'...three words which must have struck fear into the hearts of all Hull supporters!
John Kear has slipped into the shoes of Superleague coaching legend Shaun McRae, and my guess is that they don't fit too well. It will be interesting to see how long he lasts, I'd perhaps get a fiver on him to be the first to lose his job this year. Having said that he's recruited well, and the Hull management have shown their ambitions to compete this season. Motu Tony, Thackeray and Saxton have all been brought in from the Tigers with Kearney and Blacklock being recruited from down under.
Kear already has injury headaches though. Kearney is sidelined and was joined this week by the influential Shaun Briscoe who tweaked his groin in training. Also on the Hull treatment couch are; Michael Eagar, Paul King, Garreth Carvell, and Richard Whiting. Some youngsters will have to step up to the plate, not the greatest situation to be in when the champions are in town!
After getting hammered in our last visit to the old Boulevard in 2002, we have escaped with the points on each of our visits to the new stadium. Many will remember the absolute classic last season which saw a scoreless first half, before the Rhinos squeezed a victory.
Three Birdies to keep an eye on;
It has forcast the rain to start falling in Hull at 5pm and continue throughout the night - welcome to summer rugby!
Many Rhinos fans will make the journey for the opener, despite the game being broadcast to the nation on SKY. For those of you who are going, check out 'Oldladys' Ground Guide for a few tips on parking, eating and drinking.
This will be a tough seasons opener, and their is a tradition of sides who win the WCC losing their opening Superleague fixture. I'm certain that Tony will have drilled this into his players, and I expect an extra effort to make sure that we don't 'come a cropper'. A full strength Hull would pose a lot of problems to us, especially in front of such a vociferous and partisan crowd, but with the players they have missing I think we'll scrape the victory.
The bookies are rarely too far out, and are giving Hull a eight points start. McGuire looks good value at 10/1 as first try scorer, with Walker at 14/1, and Dunemann looking excellent value at 25/1.
See you all there. Match report will be up on site sometime tonight.
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