Leeds stars set to double up
Leeds Rhinos coach Brian McDermott will accept an offer from his representative players to back up for tomorrow’s re-arranged Stobart Super League clash with Wakefield Trinity Wildcats at Headingley.
The Rhinos, who desperately need to win after losing four of their last five matches to drop out of the top eight, are playing their round-three fixture with the Wildcats which was put back from February because of the World Club Challenge.
They are without full-back Brent Webb, who will also miss the Rhinos’ Challenge Cup semi-final with Wigan Warriors next month with a knee injury, but their six-strong England contingent came through yesterday’s clash with the Exiles unscathed.
In the past, Leeds have resisted the temptation to ask their players to double up but needs must and McDermott will also call on the four players involved in England Knights’ 62-4 triumph over Ireland, which was played as a curtain-raiser at Langtree Park.
“Given where we are in the league, the players probably do need to back up,” he said.
“The reality is the players won’t recover in time for Monday’s game. It’s usually Sunday teatime after a Saturday game that they start stiffening up and on Monday they are pretty tired so it will be challenging for them.
“We then have a game against Castleford six days later and I would think that week and the week after will probably be when we start feeling it.”
While Leeds, who crashed to a 50-8 loss to Wigan in their last home game, look to avoid losing three consecutive matches for the second time this year, the Wildcats are aiming for a fourth successive win.
“Wakefield have got some momentum and have some things working for them so we will have to be wary of that,” McDermott added.
“Wakefield will come to Headingley with their tails up. They are not making so many errors at the moment and they had a fantastic fightback against Hull.”
Wakefield coach Richard Agar is not getting carried away by the recent improvement of his side, who lost 38-18 to the Rhinos at Headingley in the fourth round of the Challenge Cup in April.
“The plan is to continue our run but there is a pretty big job in front of us and I know people are subscribing to the fact it could be a good time to play Leeds but I am not too sure about that,” he said.
“We are going to play a team that are on the back end of a fairly big defeat by their standards and they will certainly be wanting to banish a few doubts and criticisms that have came their way.
“I know they have a fair few players that will be involved in the Exiles game but I am sure they have dealt with situations where they have had to back up from representative football before.”