After a minor back strain, Brent Webb returns to the Rhinos side, a most welcome bit of news. Some of last weeks defensive mix-ups which cost us tries should be averted. Lee Smith and Carl Ablett are the two to miss out from the twenty named on wednesday and they will be joined by either Ian Kirke or Jordan Tansey, the latter being the most likely as we look to muscle up against a strong looking Harlequins side.
Brian McDermott is still not ready to blood Australian test forward Richard Villasanti but he has plenty of talent on show that could cause us some grief. Danny Orr and Henry Paul are now the centre field generals for the visitors and we all know the problems that those two have caused us in the past. Other big game players such as McLinden, Gafa, and Grayshon will all need close attention if we are to get the points.
McDermott undoubtedly has a point to prove against the coach he allegedly fell out with prior to leaving Headingley. I'd still like to think that the big guy is a future Rhinos coach, tonight will be a good benchmark of whathe has achieved with the 'Quins.
Three 'Quins to watch;
While we've been managing to edge close matches and get the two points, the 'Quins have been been losing narrowly. They started the season well with wins against Saints (at KR) and Hull KR and a draw at home to Salford. Since then the wheels have come off with three straight losses against Warrington, Wigan and the Bulls. They have five points from their six games and a heavy defeat tonight could see them drop to second bottom come the end of the round.
The last Headinley meeting was last years Challenge Cup Quarter Final which Leeds won 36-18 before crashing out in the semi against the Giants. A month before that we won 36-24, again at Headingley and in the first encounter of the 2006 season we won 60-00 at the Stoop thanks to four tries from Danny McGuire.
You have to go back to a barmy summers evening in Perpignan in 2005 to find the last Rhinos loss to the London side, when the then Broncos beat us by 32-24 in a game that we'd bossed from the outset before throwing away as the Rhinos supporters did the conga. During the Superleague era a London side has only won once at Headingley and that was way back in Superleague V. The statistics are on our side.
A hike in ticket prices, recent poor Rhinos form, and the uninspiring nature of the opposition could all signal a poor Headingley turnout tonight. Hopefully those that do attend can generate a good atmosphere, missing so far this season, and inspire the lads to a confidence boosting big win before we head into a very dicey looking April fixture list.
The forecast is for rain from six o'clock onwards so the taxi full of London supporters may well get wet on the Eastern Terrace. It won't do a great deal for the walk-ups either!
The bookies are giving the home side a fourteen point start which I think is being a bit cruel on the visitors. I expect them to get within that, but fingers crossed that it will be a bigger winning margin.. AP is a little more confident about the Rhinos chances, reckoning we'll manage a sixteen point winning margin.
There are just a few more hours to get your predictions in in the tipping competition.
The Senior Academy are in action against the same opponents tonight. The game could see the return of former Rhinos Academy players David Tootill and Joe Walsh in Harlequins colours. Willie Poching's side are looking to make it three wins on the spin since the opening day hiccup against Huddersfield. This game kicks off at 5.45pm.