SUPER-8S LEADERS Leeds Rhinos will have a job on their hands away to Hull this week.
That’s the view of former Hull winger Tom Briscoe ahead of Friday’s third visit of the season to the KC Stadium.
The game comes just eight days before Rhinos face Hull KR in the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup final at Wembley and with the hosts on a high following last week’s shock win away to third-placed St Helens.
Hull need a victory to maintain hopes of a top-four finish – and play-offs spot – in the Super-8s and Briscoe knows Leeds have to be at their best to go to Wembley in winning form.
“Their result at Saints just adds more interest this week for us,” said Briscoe, who scored 90 tries in 147 games for Hull from 2008-2013.
“They’ll be confident going into it, especially with it being at the KC – and it’s another big game.
“Hull are pushing well and they’ll want to finish the season strongly.
“We know we have a job on our hands, but I suppose that’s what the Super-8s are about.
“There’s no easy games going into these last five fixtures.”
Rhinos are on track for the treble of Challenge Cup, league leaders’ shield and Super League title.
Last week’s win over Wigan opened a four-point gap at the top of the table and proved Rhinos can do the tough stuff, as well as playing free-flowing rugby.
“We had to really work hard,” Briscoe conceded.
“We knew it was going to be tough and we prepared ourselves for that.
“I thought we really dug in at times and credit to Wigan, they really came out of the blocks and made it a tough game right until the end.”
With Hull winning at Saints, who are now five points behind, results last week went Leeds’ way.
The destiny of the league leaders’ shield, which will be awarded after the seven First Utility Super-8s rounds, is firmly in Rhinos’ own hands.
Leeds’ four remaining games after Friday see them play host to St Helens, travel to Catalans Dragons, take on visitors Castleford Tigers and complete their league campaign at Huddersfield Giants.
Leeds have a better points difference than any of their rivals and three more wins should be enough to seal pole position going into the semi-finals.
Briscoe said: “We knew going into last week’s game if we won we’d go four points clear of Wigan, but Saints losing has just pushed us that bit further in front.
“If we keep winning we know we can seal that top spot, but having a four-point buffer is nice, going into that back end of the season.”
Rhinos boss Brian McDermott was due to name his initial 19-man squad for Friday’s game this afternoon.
Mitch Achurch is a doubt after being knocked out during last week’s fixture and Jimmy Keinhorst had a foot in a protective boot after the match.
Brett Delaney, who missed out due to a hamstring injury, could again be sidelined, but McDermott is confident he will be available for the final.
Half-back Jordan Lilley, hooker Robbie Ward and prop Rob Mulhern are all eligible for Rhinos after not turning out for Hunslet Hawks – where they had been playing on dual-registration during the weekly rounds – in the Kingstone Press Championship Shield.
Lilley and Ward both featured for Rhinos under-19s last week, which means they are club-tied and will not be able to play for Hunslet Hawks again this season.