Leeds Rhinos coach Brian McDermott admits he holds Friday night’s opponents Warrington in high regard – and believes they will pose a stern challenge for the reigning Super League champions.
The Rhinos and the Wolves clashed on the opening night of the season over three months ago, and they do battle again tonight in arguably the most-anticipated clash in Super League this weekend.
And McDermott admits they will be a tough side to deal with based on what he’s seen of the Wolves.
“Looking at the footage building up to this game, they’re good. They’re a good team,” he said.
“They’re running strong and that’s the significant difference I’ve seen. Ryan Atkins is running as strong as I’ve seen him run for three years and across the board, they’ve gained some confidence and a confident team is a difficult team to play against.
“I don’t think they’re doing anything crazy but across the board, all their categories just seem to have all gone up a couple of notches. Collectively, they’ll end up being a real challenging team.”
McDermott also admits the Wolves will have to be wary of more than just in-form half-back Kevin Brown, too.
He said: “Brown is a standout player, but between Stefan Ratchford, Josh Charnley, the two half-backs in Brown and (Tyrone) Roberts and Ryan Atkins, you’ve got the balance there of threats all over.
“There are others; that’s not forgetting Daryl Clark and Chris Hill – the volume has been turned up on all their performances. At Widnes, if you shut Brown down you had a better chance of controlling Widnes but I don’t think that’s the case here.”
There is mixed news on the injury front for Leeds; prop Nathaniel Peteru is ready to return from a bicep injury – but Brad Dwyer is unlikely to be risked against his former club.
“Nathaniel comes back,” McDermott said of the forward.
“He played for Featherstone last week and played well, and he’s been on the end of some good weeks of running, so we’re hoping he’ll be in good shape.
“Brad won’t make it; he’s been included in the 19 but he’ll need another week’s worth of training – although he’s put his hand up and he wants to play.