ASSISTANT coach Barry Eaton says Leeds Rhinos know they will be in a “tussle” against Leigh Centurions in their Ladbrokes Challenge Cup quarter-final tie.
Rhinos face the last remaining Championship club in the competition after being drawn against Leigh who – on a 10-game winning run – knocked out Super League Salford Red Devils on Friday.
Yet they are in the unusual position of securing a home draw but having to now play at a neutral venue – Featherstone Rovers’ LD Nutrition Stadium.
The quarter-finals are due to take place from Thursday, May 31 to Sunday, June 3.
Emerald Headingley hosts the second cricket Test match between England and Pakistan from Friday, June 1 but independent security protocol means that the stadium is not allowed to be used the night before the match begins.
With England’s football side playing their final friendly prior to the 2018 FIFA World Cup at Elland Road against Costa Rica on Thursday, June 7 it means the Rhinos have had to look outside of the city to host the Challenge Cup clash.
However, given they have a long-standing partnership with Featherstone as part of the dual-registration process and play at Post Office Road each pre-season, they have struck a deal with their fellow West Yorkshire club to host the game there.
Eaton said: “It will be a little bit different playing a ‘home’ game at Fev but we’ll get on with that and we know Leigh will give us a real tussle.
“We had one with them in the quarter-finals at Headingley a few years ago (Leeds won 25-12 in 2014) and they are flying at the moment.
“They had a difficult start to the season but since Kieron Purtill took over they have been sweeping teams aside.
“We know how competitive they’ll be but it gives us a good chance to do what we need to do to achieve our own goals.”
Holders Hull FC, meanwhile, must overcome the most difficult draw possible if they are to achieve their aim of lifting the Challenge Cup for a third successive year.
Lee Radford’s side – winners in 2016 and 2017 – head to prolific Super League leaders St Helens in the quarter-final stages.
St Helens showed their class once more in knocking out Castleford Tigers with a 36-18 success at Wheldon Road on Saturday, with Australian full-back Ben Barba grabbing a spectacular hat-trick.
In the other ties, Huddersfield Giants, who beat Super League rivals Wakefield Trinity on Friday night, will host Catalans Dragons and Warrington Wolves entertain Wigan Warriors, after defeating Toronto Wolfpack yesterday.