COACH BRIAN McDermott will select from a strong squad for Leeds Rhinos’ final Betfred Super-8s fixture at Huddersfield Giants tonight – despite the prospect of a semi-final in seven days’ time.
McDermott rested a host of players for the trip to Wigan Warriors a week before Rhinos’ Ladbrokes Challenge Cup semi-final in July, but Leeds lost both games. This time he has opted to leave forwards Stevie Ward and Brad Singleton out of his initial 19-man squad, but the remaining fit senior players are included.
Carl Ablett, Jimmy Keinhorst, Jordan Lilley and Jack Walker are all back in contention after being omitted from the side which beat Salford Red Devils a week ago.
Giants’ player of the year Sebastine Ikahihifo has been recalled to their 19-man squad after missing last week’s defeat at St Helens. Nathan Mason has also been drafted in and Sam Wood is vying for a call-up, with Oliver Roberts dropping out from the 17 on duty at Saints due to a hamstring injury.
Giants’ Danny Brough – who is set to make his 300th Super League appearance tonight – has scored points in his last 23 games against Rhinos (21 for Huddersfield and two with Wakefield).
His streak began in Trinity’s 32-30 home defeat by the Rhinos on July 10, 2009.
Huddersfield Giants: from McGillvary, Gaskell, Brough, Rapira, Hinchcliffe, Lawrence, Leeming, Ikahihifo, Ta’ai, Clough, Mason, Smith, Dickinson, Wood, McIntosh, Mellor, O’Brien, Turner, Rankin.
Leeds Rhinos: from Golding, Briscoe, Watkins, Moon, Hall, McGuire, Burrow, Parcell, Cuthbertson, Jones-Buchanan, Ablett, Sutcliffe, Delaney, Garbutt, Keinhorst, Ferres, Mullally, Lilley, Walker.
Referee: Scott Mikalauskas (Leigh). Kick-off: Tonight, 8pm.