Salford are, for most people already relegated, they have not won at HQ for over thirty years, and they have never beaten the Rhinos during the Superleague era despite twenty attempts. This is just the kind of game that the Rhinos will throw away!
Leeds look like welcoming back Matt Diskin after a shorter than expected lay off with his broken hand. Nick Scruton looks likely to get just a second outing of the season as Ryan Bailey has failed to recover from an injury sustained in London last weekend. Lee Smith will be brought in at full-back thanks to Brent Webbs repeated inability to keep a tackle below neck height, and his four match ban as a result of two reckless tackles in forty seconds last weekend. Another enforced change sees the absence of Rob Burrow whos injury, mercifully, turns out to not be as bad as feared. All that remains for the coach to decide is whether Mike Ratu will get his Superleague debut, and if so, who else to leave out of the seventeen. I suspect that Mike will miss out with Ryan Hall being preferred.
Salford, now under the capable custodianship of Shaun McRea must be at the very lowest ebb fowwowing their defeat to fellow strugglers Hull KR last weekend. That lost almost certainly condemned them to bottom spot, which could threaten their very existance, and is likely to put the new stadium plans into mothballs. The atmosphere around the Willows must be dreadful, and as my adopted second team, I really feel for them.
McRae has pledged his future to the Reds and if they do drop out of Superleague then he is committed to stay and get them back up next season. He has named an eighteen man squad who look far stronger on paper than they have looked on the pitch in recent weeks. The eighteen is; Wilshere, Hodgson, Barnett, Moule, Littler, Dorn, Robinson, Coley, Alker, Korkidas, Wainwright, Highton, Finnigan, Turner, Nash, Haggerty, Saxton and Leuluai. That side should really be battling for the top six, not desperately fighting relegation.
Three Reds to watch;
Last weekends convincing second half display in the capital will have done us a world of good, so long as we don't think that we can leave it until the second half every week. There is a lot of team disruption this week, with Burrow, Bailey and Webb all missing. We need to keep the winning run going all the way to Old Trafford. It is a habit, and one that we need to make sure that we form.
Salford are totally in the doldrums needing to win at least two of their last five games, all but one against teams from the top six. They have lost four of their last five, bizarrely only winning the home game against Bradford Bulls. This goes to show that if they really do want to turn it on then they are more than capable of putting in a stunning performance.
I expect that the Rhinos will be way too strong, even with the missing players, but there is just a nagging doubt that the Reds will snatch this one and reverse thirty years of history.
It is impossible to tell whether the Reds supporters will travel en-masse to support their team, or if they will stay away, convinced that the season is a lost hope.It definitely isn't a big pull fo rthe home support but a nice evening should see 15k+ in Headingley.
The forecast looks great for tonight, with shirt-sleeves looking like being the order of the day. No fear of any rain for those on the western terrace.
The bookies have us with a twenty point start and I'd hope that we can go past that. We then need to keep our fingers crossed that the Dragons can get one over in the Cup Final rehearsal in Perpignan.
There are just a few more hours to get your predictions in in the tipping competition.