Leeds Rhinos v Castleford Tigers: YEP jury predictions

Wigan Warriors head coach Shaun Wane.
Wigan Warriors head coach Shaun Wane.
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The YEP jury have their say ahead of Leeds Rhinos v Castleford Tigers at Headingley.

CHRISTINE KIDD

It was encouraging to see Rob Burrow and Kevin Sinfield named on the team sheet for the game against Hull KR.

The game was a little dull until about the 60-minute mark when it burst into life thanks to the influence and skill of the diminutive and speedy Burrow. This was an improved team performance and should instil some confidence before the game against Castleford.

It was also good to see the under-19s get back to winning ways. With a number of them in the first-team squad over the last few weeks they have sometimes found life difficult, especially against the likes of Huddersfield.

There has been a lot of talk recently about Super League teams being able to sign a marquee player that would not be counted on the salary cap. I have heard arguments for and against this and I think I have to side with the againsts. To me one of the reasons for the salary cap is to try and make the competition more competitive. This means that even though lower-placed teams probably aren’t as consistent as teams in the top half of the table there is still a chance that the lower team, on their day, can beat a top side. Wakefield beating Leeds being a case in point!

Salford owner Dr Marwan Koukash has proved this year that you can’t necessarily win trophies by just spending money. Putting a number of good and experienced players together doesn’t guarantee success. There is more to winning than that. I have to agree with Shaun Wane when he says that he would rather bring through young players than have a marquee player.

Look at the top teams in Super League. They all have successful youth structures bringing through players that will hopefully be the future for Super League.

Clubs need to be building from the bottom. Success takes time and planning, it is not always immediate. A win tonight will put Leeds at the top of the table. A loss could see us possibly down to fifth by the end of the weekend.

Playing Castleford is always a difficult game for the Rhinos. If there are any games that Castleford fans want to win each season, the ones against Leeds are at the top of the list. Having lost to the Rhinos at home they will be trying their best to get the two points tonight.

Castleford have exceeded expectations this season and have some excellent players. Leeds need to build on the win against Hull KR last week and start to get some momentum before the semi-final against Warrington on August 9.

ADAM ANDERSON

Last Friday was a very tough encounter between Leeds and Hull Kingston Rovers.

It was very good to see the return of Kevin Sinfield, Rob Burrow and Carl Ablett.

Both sides were quite poor in the first 60 minutes, when the game was full of knock-ons, defending and poor positional play in attack. When Burrow came on we were a different side. His speed from dummy-half is very welcome and is just what we have needed in recent weeks. It was also nice to see the defensive game back on top, conceding only one try in the whole of the game. Granted it was a very good one from Josh Hodgson.

The six, seven and 13 of McGuire, Burrow and Sinfield worked very well together in the final 20, rolling back the years and clicking together.

There is still a lot of work to be done with the squad ahead of tonight’s game versus Castleford Tigers. This game is arguably the biggest game between the two sides in a generation. Leeds will have Zak Hardaker back from suspension, which will be a massive boost as we have missed his defensive game and his organisational play.

Zak can spot a try from anywhere on the pitch and that’s needed tonight. I really hope that we can grind the win out tonight and have the bragging rights of West Yorkshire. My mate Daimo thinks we’re going to win, myself I’m not so sure, but I hope he’s right!

GAVIN MILLER

Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, last week was one of the worst Leeds games I’ve seen in years. Utterly uninspiring in attack, a few players got the coach out of trouble. Not one try was coached, it was specific moments from individual players, the question needs to be asked, what does Brian McDermott do?

IAN SHARP

The sun was out on a balmy summer’s Friday night at HQ. It was a special night as we dedicated it to the armed forces and there’s not a better setting than a full house at Headingley to honour our brave guys and girls from the forces.

The rendition of God Save The Queen, as the Paras landed gave me goose bumps. What more is there to say about Robbie Burrow? He stole the show again, how we have missed him, running the line.

Another poor game from Aiton and Briscoe. McGuire seemed to revel in having Rob back and had a great game too. Zak back this week is a boost, in time for a massive Yorkshire derby.

Just a shame it’s a Thursday night!

MATTY WILCOCK

Welcome back Rob Burrow. After being out for over two months the little man returned to inspire a Rhinos team that hasn’t been anywhere near its best since his injury. This week’s game against local rivals Castleford could be the biggest between the two in some time, but with key players back Leeds should have enough.

MATT FOWLER

Where has the season gone? Only seven rounds to go and the race for top spot is now on, along with the much-anticipated semi-final against Warrington.

If you read all the players’ comments they know this is when the serious stuff begins. As Jones-Buchanan once said, the Rhinos players are like meerkats at this time of the year. They are up on their hind legs sniffing out the trophies.

The last 20 minutes of the Hull KR game will have boosted confidence.

Burrow back added much-needed offensive flair and the next test against Cas will be a key barometer of where both teams could finish on the league ladder. It should be a classic.

Andy Lynch.

Castleford Tigers veteran Andy Lynch halfway to dream finalé