Our Jury will be travelling in hope rather than expectation, but see it as a good chance to measure the team’s progress under coach Rohan Smith.
It was a steady performance by England on Saturday night at Warrington.
Mik Oledzki played extremely well in the forwards, getting metres in for England and wore the shirt with pride. He’s definitely going to be in the World Cup squad. Overall, I must say it was a great performance from the Leeds boys in both teams.
Rhyse Martin had a very good game in a position that he doesn’t play that often, driving a load of metres and nearly scoring a number of tries for the All Stars. One player in the All Stars who I think wowed everyone was Kruise Leeming, who should have started over Daryl Clark and was the best hooker on the pitch, giving 100 per cent. Fingers crossed Shaun Wane has noticed his great performance.
This Thursday, we’ve got a long trip across the Pennies to St Helens.
I think the task for that game is to reduce the points deficit as much as possible as I haven’t got that much hope against a very strong St Helens team.
As long as we do the basics and look like we’re trying then I’ll be happy.
We return to action on Thursday after a nice 13-day break.
Although it wasn’t a break for everyone as some took part in the England versus All Stars game last week.
I guess the players keeping fit is just as good as them resting, or it is if they don’t get injured. Matt Prior left the pitch during that game in the 15th minute and didn’t return for the remainder of the game.
He’s a key player in our squad, and an injury to him could be costly.
We had a few others make an appearance during that game and they managed to make it through unscathed, thankfully.
Anyway, back to the Rhinos and, in just a couple of short days, we are back on the road.
St Helens have lost just twice this season and they beat us to nil at home in April.
We will need to play exceptionally better this week if we want to stand a chance of beating them but it is doable, given their defeats have come against Castleford Tigers and Toulouse Olympique.
Hopeful for the win, but let’s see what happens on Thursday.
Vive la France! It’s good to see recruitment has finally begun for next season with French international Justin Sangare allegedly being signed from Toulouse.
He will be a valuable addition, arriving with a great reputation - particularly defensively - with the bonus of not using a quota spot. Hopefully, this is in addition not a replacement.
Gary Hetherington and Rohan Smith now must work their magic and get a couple more through the door including the retention of Rhyse Martin and, possibly, Zak Hardaker.
The England game had the traditional last-minute chaos with some All Stars players dropping out. It was a comfortable English victory and, hopefully, a good hit-out before the World Cup for the players, with NRL-based stars to add to the mix. Kruise Leeming used the motivation of not being selected for England to prove he should start for England.
The Saints are up next and it will probably be our hardest game. I am not expecting a win but it’s a good chance for us to demonstrate how far the squad has improved since they nilled us at HQ.
The international break has come just at the right time for Leeds, I feel.
Coming off the back of a loss after a good run of form, it was the perfect opportunity for Rohan Smith to assess the squad after his first month in charge.
There’s still a lack of self-belief and confidence in the team at times but you can see the impact he’s having.
Saints away will always be the toughest away game of the year when the champions are firing on all cylinders but I can see Leeds pulling off an upset, especially if they can click as they did in the Warrington game.
Having no game last weekend gave Harry Newman an extra week to get his fitness in after a successful comeback following a horror few months injury-wise.
It looks as though half-back Aiden Sezer will be available after completing his rehab’ on his groin injury.
It’s easy to forget after his tough start with his injury but he was a Man of Steel contender just a year or two ago.
If he can recapture this form, along with Newman returning, who is a game-winner, it will be massive for Leeds.
With the international break out of the way, questions remain as to how well England will go in the World Cup at the end of the season.
Not only is there a worry of how we’ll go if we meet the ‘Big Two’ (Australia and New Zealand) but also from the rapid improvement of the Pacific nations too. Thankfully, the Leeds contingent on both sides seem to have come through unscathed.
Leeds are back in action away to St Helens and, to quote the late Douglas Adams: “I could never get the hang of Thursdays.” It is an awful day for games, given the majority of fans work Monday to Friday. Throw in the proposed train strike and who knows how many fans will travel? The game of the weekend should be the Leeds Wheelchair RL team, playing Catalans Dragons in the Challenge Cup final in Hull on Saturday. If you’ve not checked out the wheelchair version of the sport, then I urge you to do so as soon as you can.
Last weekend’s international showed dazzling skills from both sides and long may the development of the game as a spectacle continue to grow.
England against the Combined All Stars wasn’t the most exciting watch, but it was good to see some of the Rhinos lads getting a run out.
You know what you’re going to get with a Shaun Wane-coached team - solid in defence and well organised attacking. And it’s going to be interesting now for the England head coach when it comes to picking his final squad, with the NRL players to consider and the players out injured.
There were some quality bodies missing from Saturday’s match which is only a good thing for England.
They stand a great chance of going all the way with the quality they have.
The champions away is next up for the Rhinos after two weeks off for Rohan Smith to come up with the magic plan, whatever that could be.
To beat Saints, we need them to be having a really bad day and Leeds being on top form.
We have seen glimpses of how good we can be; we just don’t know which Leeds team is going to turn up.
I’m keeping the faith, like always, but I can’t say I’m confident about the result.