Leeds Rhinos v North Queensland Cowboys: YEP jury predictions

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Our YEP Jury have their say on the World Club Challenge and that defeat at Widnes.

THOMAS LAWRENCE

Jordan Lilley.

Jordan Lilley.

It’s strange to think that this time next week Leeds could be World Club Champions whilst bottom of Super League.

I am daring to dream ahead of Sunday evening’s showdown with the North Queensland Cowboys at Headingley – one last chance for the Aussies to experience the belting atmosphere of the South Stand before it is diminished in renovation.

I don’t think that the odds have ever been stacked so highly against Leeds going into a World Club Challenge, and justifiably so if Sunday’s demoralising performance at Widnes is anything to go by.

This is so frustrating as there were so many positives to take from the Warrington game, and yet so few from Widnes. Then to gain three more injuries just tightens the clamp of the challenging situation that we are in.

On Sunday it was apparent that there are leadership issues at the moment – the epitome of this being when Leeds would concede and just be stood behind the try line staring into space. Who was doing the talking? Who was urging amendments? Who was laying down the expectations of the shirt the way that Paul Wellens was for Saints at Salford on Thursday evening? Nobody. With no Sinfield, Peacock, Leuluai or McGuire, Leeds need a vocal and empowering leader right now.

Minor positives included the passion shown in the performance of Brett Ferres, who will be aiming to be a World Club champion again ten years after being one with Bradford. It was also nice to see Jordan Lilley take over the kicking duties – if he is going to have a run in the side then why not? It gives Hardaker more time to improve for when the duties will likely return to him later in the season. However, it would be nice to see Lilley get his hands on the ball and run at the opposition more – the way he did against New Zealand.

I know that scenarios in the past have been different, but Leeds have been written off before and look at how that unfolded. I know it’s going to take the perfect performance and some sheer luck, but if we can frustrate the Cowboys then I believe that Leeds can win. If you don’t believe, then why bother spending £25 and turning up? Enjoy the game. Come on Leeds!

ANDREW RICHARDSON

After last week’s defeat to Widnes many believe the wheels have come off and we’re in freefall.

The display was nothing short of a disaster with three more injuries being incurred and it is a game that most fans will wish to wipe from their memory. The team appeared disjointed and struggled to compete from kick-off and it is difficult to pinpoint what was missing from the team. Instead, it’s better to focus on the quality we do have within our squad.

Regardless of results we have a formidable group of forwards and without question one of the best backlines in the world, furthermore in Lilley and Sutcliffe we have two young half-backs that look scarily comfortable playing in Super League despite their relative age.

Looking ahead to Sunday we have our best chance at winning silverware this season and could fill the empty spot in our trophy cabinet.

If there’s one thing that’s guaranteed it’s that Leeds will come out firing and put everything we have into trying to topple the Cowboys.

It will take something special to pull out a win, looking at the two teams head to head, North Queensland certainly come out on top.

Although the Cowboys have a far superior squad, a Leeds victory isn’t inconceivable.

I’ll cautiously predict a full trophy cabinet with a Leeds win by seven.

ANDREW SUTCLIFFE

I think the song goes “things can only get better!” It’s not like we have the Aussie champions to play next!

Everything that could go wrong appeared to do so in 80 minutes against Widnes. It’s time to move on, forget about it and concentrate on the biggest game of the year.

Leeds are not a bad team, they are however missing key players, experience and leadership. We desperately need a recognised hooker controlling the ruck and organising the defence. Hopefully, Falloon can return this week allowing Burrow to play in the halves.

I’m not giving up all hope against the Cowboys but it’ll take a massive effort to achieve this. I for one can’t wait to see Headingley rocking this Sunday.

LUKE CROSSFIELD

Last Sunday happened and credit to Widnes for their performance. We might be low on bodies and short of confidence, however I can see us putting up a performance. The South Stand needs to be bouncing for the whole game as the Cowboys won’t know what is going to hit them.

KATIE BURROWS

A couple of below-par performances and some bad luck with injuries to key players hasn’t got us off to the best start, but let’s not be too hasty to write this year off before it’s even begun.

It was always going to be difficult for us to start this season playing with the same intensity as we finished 2015, and I think we just need some time to work on the basics again.

Such a heavy defeat so early on in the year isn’t ideal, but I don’t think we should start to panic yet.

While I’m not sure there’s much chance of us beating the Aussies in this Sunday’s World Club Challenge at Headingley, I’m looking forward to what should be a great weekend of rugby league.

ELIZABETH HAWKHEAD

Valentine’s Day carnage at Widnes sees Leeds languishing at the bottom of Super League. Were their eyes on next week’s prize? Without McGuire, Ablett, and Briscoe for what could arguably be the most important game of the season, Rhinos must dig deep to find some magic against North Queensland Cowboys.

Ashton Golding. PIC: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com

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