Can Luke Briscoe be Leeds’ unlikely hero?
Given their growing injury list, Leeds caught a few people by surprise on Thursday when they announced the re-signing of Luke Briscoe. The younger brother of Rhinos winger Tom hasn’t played for the club since 2014 and has since spent time at Wakefield and Hunslet – but he comes immediately into the mix for Leeds’ trip to Huddersfield on Friday. Can he and the likes of young forward Cameron Smith be Leeds’ unlikely stars in this huge West Yorkshire derby?
A patched-up Catalans face a huge task at Hull
If one side has escaped the trials and tribulations of an extensive injury list so far in 2016, it is Catalans Dragons: until now. Les Dracs are without a number of key men including Paul Aiton, Todd Carney, Krisnan Inu and now Dave Taylor for Friday’s trip to Hull, after he failed fitness tests on Thursday. Will a patched-up Catalans side be able to keep up the pace at the top, or will Hull move level with the Frenchmen?
Salford’s response to a turbulent week
Suddenly hurled down to joint-bottom of the competition, Salford’s response to the six-point deduction they received for a breach of the salary cap will be intriguing, to say the least. On the field, the Red Devils have been boosted by the return of captain Tommy Lee for Saturday’s game against Hull KR, one which looks vital if Salford are to start clawing their way back up the table. Will they end a horrid week with a potentially season-defining win?
Castleford’s increasingly-alarming slump
It would perhaps be excessive to call it a major worry, but Castleford’s recent form has them now hovering above the bottom four and looking nervously over their shoulders. They could end the weekend just two points clear of the side in ninth if Hull KR win at Salford and they lose to St Helens – a game which is massive for their top-four hopes, even so early into the regular season. Can Cas arrest the slump?
A huge weekend for the congested table
Salford’s six-point deduction and the potential results this weekend mean that, by Sunday night, we could have a lot more clarity about who is heading where in the Super 8s. For example, if Cas and Wakey both win and Huddersfield and Salford defeat their fellow bottom four sides Leeds and Hull KR, there could be as big as a five-point gap between the top eight and the bottom four. Is this the most crucial weekend of the season so far? It may well be.