The Rhinos eighteen sees no place for either Danny McGuire, still injured, or Willie Poching which leaves the Rhinos without our free scoring and inventive half-back and our impact off the bench utility forward. Clinton Toopi and Jamie Thackray both make the eighteen in their places, and the odds are that both will play. I suspect that we'll see Toopi on the wing (in place of Gibson) or at full-back (in place of low on confidence Lee Smith). Whoever misses out on the final seventeen is anyones guess but I'd plump for one ofthe two that I have named above, giving Ian Kirke another chance to cement his place up front for the run-in.
Peter Sharps' eighteen man squad is;Blacklock, Briscoe, Carvell, Chester, Cooke, Domic, Dowes, G. Horne, R. Horne, King, Lee, McMenemy, Radford, Raynor, Swain, Tony, Washbrook,and Whiting. Several ex-Leeds lads will once again be relishing the chance to finish off our season and we'll have to watch out for Carvell, Dowes and Raynor...particularly Raynor. Nathan Blacklock is reported to be playing through the pain barrier with injury, but the rest of the squad looks pretty tasty.
Three Airlie Birds to watch;
Hull FC have had an extra weeks rest, although most of the Rhinos players had a fairly restful time of it last sunday afternoon. The big advantage for Hull FC is an extra week to put their defeat against the 'Quins behind them and get focussed on taking the two points off Leeds. The Rhinos have never lost at the KC Stadium with the last loss on Humberside being a 38-06 loss in March 2002. The last time that the two sides met was at Headingley in Round 14 when the Airlie Birds were 44-28 winners.
Previous to the 'Quins loss, Hull had won thirteen straight matches stretching way back to their defeat against us at the KC back in April. Sharp wil be hoping to start another winning streak up until the end of the season with a win over us tonight. Leeds, on the other hand, are looking to avoid a fourth consecutive defeat, which would equal our worst run under Tony Smith (August last year). Confidence must be at an all time low and with 90% of Rhinos fans thinking that the season is now over, there must be a big black cloud hanging over the camp.
I can't see us turning the corner just yet and I think that Hull FC will get the better of us tonight. The last time the sides met at the KC the Rhinos weren't in the game at 20-12 down at half-time but came back with a brilliant second half to secure an eight point victory. Lets hope that I am wrong and the lads can turn them over again.
The forecast is for a decent day on Humberside with clear skies and reasonable temperatures, but nothing too hot. The conditions at kick-off should be conducive to a good game of open football.
The bookies have made the home side slight favourites, but with just a two point start to Leeds in the handicapping they reckon that it is going to be a close game.
There is just a short time left to get your predictions in in the tipping competition.