Leeds Rhinos v Hull KR: Five talking points ahead of the Qualifiers clash

Stevie Ward.
Stevie Ward.
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Leeds Rhinos begin their home campaign in the Qualifiers on Friday when they face Hull KR.

It is the sides’ second meeting in three weeks and Rhinos will be aiming to repeat their 24-20 away win in the final round of the regular Super League season.

Here are five talking points ahead of the game.

1: It is good to see Stevie Ward back in Rhinos’ initial 19-man squad, for the first time in 11 months. He has undergone three knee operations and surgery on a shoulder since being injured in the final Super-8s game last year, but resumed full-time training on Tuesday.

2: The luckless Brett Delaney drops out after suffering a dislocated knee against Featherstone Rovers last week. Brett Ferres is a doubt due to an ankle problem, but everybody else is fit and that has played a major part in Rhinos’ improved recent form.

3: Hull KR are Qualifiers specialists. They won all their seven matches in 2016 and opened with a win last week. Friday’s victors will be a giant step closer to securing a Super League place for 2017.

4: Rovers’ ex-Leeds contingent will all have a point to prove. Thomas Minns, Robbie Mulhern and Chris Clarkson are Rhinos academy products who may feel they deserved more of a chance and this game is a big opportunity for them to show Leeds’ management what they are missing.

5: Hats off to the Headingley ground staff. The famous playing surface has been reseeded and renovated in record time since the previous home game against Wigan less than a month ago.