Following on from last week’s postponed match against Catalans, Leeds Rhinos play host to Hull FC for a heavyweight clash, the first at a new look Headingley. In the off season, the iconic ground has changed somewhat with the imposing structure that will be the new South Stand taking shape and a temporary North Stand replacing it’s demolished older self.
Rhinos’ coach Brian McDermott acknowledges that it will be tricky for the 2017 Super League winners in the new look environment initially, saying that the fans have a big role in making the ground a new look fortress for the West Yorkshiremen, explaining that “there is a responsibility for the crowd to try to scare the life out of the opposition as much as they used to do when it was nice and comfortable.” In his pre match press conference, McDermott confirmed that Ashton Golding will hold onto his starting berth despite Jack Walker’s return to fitness with the youngster set to settle for a place on the bench. Walker is likely to take Brad Dwyer’s place on the bench as the hooker recovers from a minor rib injury but, despite the former Warrington man’s absence, Leeds can welcome back some welcome senior figures. Wingers Tom Briscoe and Ryan Hall return alongside half back Joel Moon and forwards Anthony Mullally and Carl Ablett.
Leeds will be hoping to continue their winning streak over their Humberside rivals who have failed to beat the Rhinos at Headingley for over a decade now, something England forward Scott Taylor doesn’t buy into; “it doesn’t come into our mindset. Every game is worth two points,” further saying that “I don’t believe in hoodoos.” Hull, however, are going to have to take on Leeds without a handful of their key players with hooker Danny Houghton and Bureta Faraimo absent due to injury alongside suspended prop Liam Watts. Furthermore, mercurial half back Albert Kelly and prop forward Micky Paea are doubts for Thursday’s match, the first of Super League’s fifth round of fixtures.
Leeds Rhinos squad: Golding, Briscoe, Watkins, Hall, Moon, Myler, Parcell, Singleton, Jones-Buchanan, Ablett, Delaney, Mullally, Garbutt, Handley, Ormondroyd, Walker, Oledzki, Walters.
Hull FC squad: Shaul, Logan, Griffin, Tuimavave, Talanoa, Connor, Sneyd, Taylor, Washbrook, Fash, Manu, Minichiello, Hadley; Abdull, Green, Turgut, Matongo, Lane, Downs.