Trials are vital to Leeds Rhinos - Hetherington

Leeds Rhinos' trial games against lower division opposition are a vital part of the club's pre-season preparations, it has been claimed.

Chief executive Gary Hetherington has backed the policy of fielding fringe players in matches like this Sunday's Lazenby Cup encounter with Hunslet Hawks.

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Boss Brian McDermott has yet to name his side for the trip to South Leeds Stadium, but has confirmed he will not be fielding his elite players.

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Rhinos will also put out a side made up of fringe men and academy players away to Featherstone Rovers on January 23, before a first-choice line-up faces Crusaders at Wrexham five days later.

Hetherington insisted the games against Hunslet and Featherstone – plus other lower grade trial matches at Whitehaven on January 30 and York

City Knights on February 2 – are worthwhile.

"In terms of preparation, players need to play," said the Rhinos chief. "Quite a number of players in the first team squad are anxious to show Brian what they can do, because he hasn't seen them yet.

"They have been training since the start of November and Sunday's game will be the first chance for some of them to impress Brian.

"The players who have been brought into the first team squad this year – Callum Casey, Liam Hood, Brad Singleton and Jarred Stewart – are there on somebody else's recommendation. They've been recommended by (youth boss) Barrie McDermott.

"These trial games are an opportunity for Brian to have a look at them."

Hetherington said Rhinos' management will also be looking for Michael Coady and Kyle Amor to state a first team case, after a year's full-time training.

"Kyle had been hoping to play on New Year's Day, but he missed out because of a slight hamstring strain," he said.

"Michael has been quite impressive in pre-season so far and he has fully recovered from the illness he had.

"They need to show how they have progressed. They have got to start looking to get in the first team now."

Meanwhile, former Leeds and Hunslet player Frank Watson could be asked to present the trophy after Sunday's game.

Hetherington revealed: "We are looking at inviting all the players who have played for both Leeds and Hunslet over the years.

"We have come up with quite an impressive list of 12 or 13.

"Frank Watson is the oldest surviving and he would be an appropriate person to present the cup."

Chris Wood scoresa late in the first half to make reduce the deficit to 3-1 at home to Norwich last season. Picture: Varley.

Haven’t we met before? Previous Elland Road meetings between Leeds United and Norwich City