Gas shortage leaves Leeds Rhinos battling to save derby date

Leeds Rhinos' Boxing Day charity clash with Wakefield Trinity Wildcats looks to be running out of gas.

A pitch inspection was being held at Headingley Carnegie Stadium this morning – 48 hours before the game was due to be played.

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Rhinos have been optimistic of getting the game on all week, but a fuel shortage has left the money-spinning annual contest in major doubt.

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"One of the problems is, we have arranged for hot air cylinders, but we couldn't get any gas for them," Rhinos chief executive Gary

Hetherington revealed.

"There is a complete shortage all over the country and that was a bit of an issue."

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Hetherington added: "I will be having a meeting with the groundstaff (this morning) and things will be a bit clearer then.

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"A lot depends on the weather forecast, which keeps changing."

Headingley groundstaff have been working on the pitch for the last 10 days, but only managed to get gas to supply the hot air blowers yesterday afternoon. The blowers were on the pitch overnight.

Headingley groundstaff have been working on the pitch for the last ten days, but only managed to get gas to supply the hot air blowers yesterday afternoon. The blowers were on the pitch overnight.

If the game goes ahead, new boss Brian McDermott's priority

will be to see Rhinos emerge unscathed – and with a good performance under their belt.

Weather-permitting, the former Leeds assistant and Harlequins head coach will take charge of Rhinos for the first time.

Rhinos haven't prepared specifically for Sunday's clash and McDermott admitted his team are unlikely to be at their best.

But he insisted he expects them to put on a show for what is likely to be a bumper crowd.

"It is a great day out and part of tradition," said McDermott.

"But it's in the middle of our pre-season and we've been doing some things in our preparation that are contradictory to a good performance.

"I'd rather do that and be in great nick for the start of the season than taper off and hold back for Sunday.

"After the Boxing Day game the players will have some time off, but we have been very full-on this week.

"There'll be a few players a bit jaded and a bit stiff during the game, but that's how it has to be."

McDermott admitted getting through injury-free is the number one priority, but he added: "Close second is to play well.

"Although we've been doing some heavy work in the week I want the players to be sharp and to try and implement some of the stuff we've been working on.

"Hopefully we'll be able to give each other the thumbs up after the game, regardless of result.

"It's not a scoreboard thing on Boxing Day – we want to be able to say that worked, we achieved that and we've got something to build on."

Recruits Zak Hardaker, Ben Cross and Weller Hauraki have all been named in a Leeds line-up drawn entirely from the club's full-time squad.

"It's a strong team," McDermott said. "The lack of international representatives has had a bearing on that.

"With a new coaching staff and some new players, I think they are keen to play with each other.

"They aren't doing it under sufferance, a lot of them want to be out there to start the ball rolling."

Gate receipts from Sunday's game will be shared between the two clubs, with 1 from every ticket sold being donated to the Sick Children's Trust.

Meanwhile, McDermott's former club, Harlequins RL, have announced the signing of Hull back-rower Mike Burnett on loan for the 2011 season.

Burnett, 22, is hotly tipped after emerging from the Black and Whites' academy but has struggled for first-team action due to the presence of the likes of Danny Tickle, Craig Fitzgibbon and Willie Manu in Richard Agar's squad.