There can be no doubting Tony Smith success as Rhinos coach with two Grand Final wins in three appearances in four years. We've also had a minor premiership and a Challenge Cup Final appearance. More's the point he built a team who could raise their game to a level where beating the most formidable side in the competition, St. Helens, has become a habit. The Great British rugby league public will now be hoping that he can project his club success onto the international stage.|
Leeds players will play a big part in the three match test series (Huddersfield, Hull, Wigan). Clinton Toopi is in the New Zealand squad, but not picked in the eighteen for tomorrow, while five Rhinos are named in the starting thirteen by their new GB coach.
Rob Burrow will be looking to put last years very disappointing Lions Tour down-under behind him when he takes to the field as the first choice scrum-half. He has been the Rhinos stand-out player all season, and SouthStander.com's Player of the Year, and will terrorise the Kiwi defence.
Jamie Peacock is named as GB coach ahead of his club skipper Kevin Sinfield who finally gets the nod at thirteen. Keith Senior must surely be looking at his International swan-song at the age of thirty although he has little competition at centre.
The final Rhino is Gareth Ellis, who has also had an awesome season at the Rhinos. Gaz will pack down alongside his GB skipper JP in a back of the scrum made up entirely of Leeds players.
The Rhinos have most players in the starting thirteen, but there are six Saints players in the seventeen making the runners-up the best represented. Had Danny McGuire not picked up an injury last weekend playing for the Northern Union against the All Golds then he would surely have played instead of Leon Pryce giving Smith the dream half-back combination.
GB go into the game as favourites with the Kiwis being given an eight point start by the bookies. GB are 2/5 to win without the handicap whereas New Zealand are 2/1.Rob Burrow Keith Senior both look good value as the first try scorer at 16/1, or how about an outsiders flutter on the GB skipper at 40/1?
It should be a great test series and good luck to Tony and the lads. Lets hope the Leeds boys shine.