Leeds Rhinos: Leaders looking light at the back for Wakefield Wildcats clash

Joel Moon holds off Wigan's Ben Flower at St James' Park on Saturday. Picture: Steve Riding.
Joel Moon holds off Wigan's Ben Flower at St James' Park on Saturday. Picture: Steve Riding.
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SUPER LEAGUE leaders Leeds Rhinos could be without three of their first-choice back-five for Sunday’s derby at bottom club Wakefield Trinity Wildcats.

Winger Tom Briscoe remains on the long-term casualty list, full-back Zak Hardaker is struggling with an ankle problem and centre Joel Moon faces a possible ban.

Hardaker was hurt in the second half of the 27-12 loss to Wigan Warriors three days go.

His injured ankle is in a protective boot and he admitted it is still “sore” – though he is hopeful there is no long-term damage.

Moon will appear before the RFL’s disciplinary committee this evening after the match review panel charged him with making Grade C dangerous contact on Wigan’s Josh Charnley in the 30th minute of Saturday’s game.

The Australian is not eligible to submit an early guilty plea following a sending-off last season and faces a ban of two to three matches if found guilty.

The match review panel issued a formal caution to Rhinos prop Jamie Peacock for raising his knees in a tackle by Wigan’s John Bateman in the 67th minute.

Briscoe is making good progress following shoulder surgery, but is unlikely to return before next month and back-up full-back Ashton Golding has missed recent under-19s games with a back injury.

The loss of both Hardaker and Moon for Sunday’s game would be a blow for Rhinos, who will be knocked off top spot if St Helens beat Salford Red Devils on Friday.

Moon is predicting a tough game for Leeds, despite Wakefield’s run of 13 straight defeats in First Utility Super League.

“It’s always tough going to Wakefield and last year they got us there,” Moon said.

“They always want to beat us, it’s a tough crowd and they are a good team at home.

“We need to be on the ball this week. We’ve got to focus on ourselves.

“We’ve looked at a few things in video and hopefully we’ll get things right this week.”

Rhinos have decided against asking Wildcats to move the game forward from Sunday - which means they face two derbies in five days with Castleford Tigers due to visit Headingley the following Thursday.

Tigers were due to travel to Hull KR this Sunday, but asked for the game to be switched to Friday night to give them more time to prepare.

Moon insisted Rhinos’ players can cope with the short turn-around.

“It will be tough,” he said. “But we do it over the Easter period.

“You just have to get your body right and make sure you do the right amount of training and preparation for the game.

“We get well looked after, we’ve got full confidence in the coaches and the conditioners. They know what’s best for us, so we just follow what they do.”