With two notable exceptions the Rhinos will be at full strength for tonights fourth round Carnegie Challenge Cup clash. The exceptions are Brent Webb who picked up a shin injury against the Harlequins and Keith Senior who has been suffering a niggling back injury and will be rested ahead of the busy Easter programme. The Rhinos eighteen includes Leuleui (returning from illness), Jordan Tansey, and Carl Ablett. It is likely that either Jordan or Carl will be the one to miss out on the final line-up. Tony Smith has some personal attachment to Workington having played at Derwent Park for a few games in 1996, the year that saw Workington relegated from the top flight, and a disasterous season for Leeds.
Tonights match will come as a blessed relief for embattled Workington coach Ged Stokes. He's been under pressure as a result of some poor recent results culminating in a 58-12 loss in last weeks local derby at Whitehaven, having lost earlier in the month to Barrow. Workington progressed to this stage thanks to a thir round 18-10 win over Oulton, far from convincing.
Languishing in National League two, the team is made up of semi-professionals. There are no names in the side that will be familiar to the majority of Leeds fans and the visitors will be without the services of recently re-signed winger Matthew Woodcock, and new boy Steve Ormesher who both joined Workington after the registration deadline.
Three Workies to watch;
The Rhinos have only played Workington Town once in the last ten years. February 2004 saw us make the trip up to the Cumbrian coast for a Challenge Cup Round 4 clash which we comfortably won by 68-18. Surprisingly, only four of the points scorers that day are still on the playing staff; Sinfield, Diskin, Burrow and Jones-Buchanan. You have to go back to 1996 for the previous clashes when Leeds beat Workington twice in the league to avoid relegation and push the Cumbrians down. The home fixture that season was watched by less than 5,000 and was the last home game before Caddick and Hetherington took over.
There is absolutely zero chance that the visitors can spring a surprise.
Leeds are charging twelve pounds for entry tonight and while I can understand the requirement to still raise some money for the visitors and to cover staffing costs at Headingley, I can't help but feel that a ten quid entry may well have brought in the ditherers. A tough econimic position to be in. I'd hope that there will be more than the 4,956 that were there in 1996 but I expect not too many more.
Light rain this morning should be making way to decent weather later in the day. A fine evening means that the visitors on the Western Terrace shouldn't need their brollies. Lets hope plenty make the long trip to support their lads.
The bookies aren't currently offering odds on the Rhinos game, but if and when they do, expect the handicap to be high, and the odds of an outright Workington win to be astronomical.