CHALLENGE CUP semi-finalists Leeds Rhinos and Wigan Warriors are taking different approaches to tonight’s Super League showdown.
Wigan boss Shaun Wane, whose side face Salford Red Devils in the Cup next weekend, has named an unchanged 19-man squad from the home loss to Warrington Wolves eight days ago.
But Rhinos will be without at least six players who featured in last Friday’s 10-7 win over Hull, who they meet again in the Cup a week tomorrow and could give a debut to three academy teenagers.
Ryan Hall and Stevie Ward both suffered concussion last week and Keith Galloway sustained a season-ending Achilles injury. Also missing tonight will be Brad Singleton (calf), Adam Cuthbertson (knee) and Danny McGuire (hamstring).
Kallum Watkins, who sat out the Hull game due to concussion, is sidelined again, this time with a knee problem. Others remaining on the casualty list are Liam Sutcliffe (hamstring), Rob Burrow (shoulder) and knee injury victims Brett Delaney, Josh Walters, Brett Ferres and Ash Handley.
Rhinos’ initial 19 for tonight has an average age of 23 and includes seven teenagers.
Eighteen-year-old forwards Cameron Smith and Mikolaj Oledzki have been recalled from loan spells at Bradford Bulls. Centre Harry Newman (17) is set to become the first player born this century to feature for Rhinos or any other club and hooker Harvey Whiteley (18) and second-row Alex Sutcliffe (18), who has been 18th man for three games this season, could also make their debut.
Also in contention is another 18-year-old forward Josh Jordan-Roberts, who had a spell on loan at Bulls earlier this year. Full-back Jack Walker, 17, retains his place despite turning down Rhinos’ contract offer.
Jordan Baldwinson and Jack Ormondroyd, who played on dual-registration for Featherstone Rovers last weekend, are also included.
Wigan Warriors: from Bateman, Burgess, Clubb, Davies, Field, Gelling, Gildart, Isa, Leuluai, Marshall, Mcilorum, Nuuausala, O’Loughlin, Powell, Sutton, Tautai, S Tomkins, Wells, Williams.
Leeds Rhinos: from Golding, Briscoe, Moon, Parcell, Jones-Buchanan, Ablett, Garbutt, Keinhorst, Mullally, Ormondroyd, Baldwinson, Lilley, Smith, Oledzki, Jordan-Roberts, Walker, Sutcliffe, Newman, Whiteley.
Referee: Ben Thaler (Wakefield).
Kick-off: Tonight, 8pm.