TOMORROW’S GRAND Final rematch is ideal preparation for the tough fixtures to come, Leeds Rhinos ace Matt Parcell says.
Rhinos will face Castleford Tigers at the Jungle in a full-scale practice game, 11 days before they kick-off in Betfred Super League away to Warrington Wolves.
Leeds turned the tables to beat Tigers 24-6 in last October’s title decider and Parcell knows that will add spice to tomorrow’s derby.
“I guess it’s a bit unusual playing the Grand Final rematch in a trial game, but we are expecting a tough Cas team and it’ll be a good test for us,” said the Australian hooker.
“It is a trial game and with Richie [Myler] coming in we are still working on combinations, but I guess they will be going all out and it is chance to see where we are at. The season starts in two weeks so it is chance to have a good hit-out before then.”
Parcell was the only member of Leeds’ Grand Final-winning squad to feature in the 2017 Dream Team.
He had an outstanding first season at the club, but feels he can get better.
“I’m just continuing to work on my game,” he said.
“I am working in combination with Richie now and that’s going well so I think there’s a lot more still to come in my game.”
Tomorrow will be Myler’s second appearance for Leeds after the Boxing Day win at Wakefield Trinity, but the first time he has played alongside Parcell.
“He has fitted in really well,” Parcell said of the former Warrington and Catalans star.
“He is a bit of a different half-back to Magsy [Danny McGuire], but he is training really well and hopefully that comes out in the games.”
Parcell was not at the club two years ago when Rhinos slumped to ninth in the table a season after winning the treble, but said that will serve as “a big motivation” for this term.
Kallum Watkins will skipper the team tomorrow, five days after being named as Rhinos’ captain for 2018 and Parcell reckons he is a popular choice.
“I’ve only known him 12 months, but he’s a really good fella,” he said.
“He’s been here through the success and come through the academy and been here a long time, so it’s well deserved.”
Rhinos’ team includes 13 members of the side which beat Castleford at Old Trafford.
Nathaniel Peteru is set to make his first appearance after joining Rhinos from Gold Coast Titans, Brett Delaney will return from a hamstring injury suffered last season and Adam Cuthbertson is available after successful surgery on the knee he damaged in the title decider.
Stevie Ward (shoulder), Brett Ferres (knee) and Keith Galloway (Achilles) are on the casualty list.
Castleford Tigers: from Aston, Clare, Cook, Eden, Egodo, Foster, Gale, Green, Holmes, Lo, Massey, McMeeken, McShane, Millington, Milner, Moors, Roberts, Sene-Lefao, Shenton, Trueman, Wardle, Webster.
Leeds Rhinos: from Walker, Briscoe, Watkins, L Sutcliffe, Hall, Moon, Myler, Garbutt, Parcell, Singleton, Jones-Buchanan, Ablett, Cuthbertson. Subs: Delaney, Mullally, Dwyer, Golding, Keinhorst, Peteru, Ormondroyd.
Referee: James Child (Batley).
Kick-off: Tomorrow, 3pm.