Super League preview: Hull KR v Leeds Rhinos

Brian McDermott has almost a full-strength squad to pick from ahead of Sunday’s clash with Hull KR.

Ian Kirke, Jamie Jones-Buchanan and Andy Yates are the only casualties, while new signings Paul Aiton and Tom Briscoe are both aiming to make their competitive debuts.

The weather forecast is poor for the clash, which takes place at the newly-named KC Lightstream stadium, but McDermott says his side are prepared.

“Our [poor weather] game plans were established in early November when it started to rain, it’s rained since then so I don’t think anyone has had to change anything,” he said.

“The weather has been here a while and it’s going to be here for at least a few more weeks so as it starts to dry up people might start to adapt and change but I think most people are gearing up for wet weather style play this week.

“You know you’re not going to get many long kicks in the wind, you may have to do some things differently but once again we’ve been practising that all in pre-season so I’m wary of saying we’re changing because of the weather we’re just adapting and it’s something we’ve been doing for three months now.”

McDermott has to pick three names from four England internationals for his backline, but says he is relishing the competition it will bring.

“I have decided on my starting three but what I think is important to note is that doesn’t mean it’s for 27 rounds,” he said.

“I haven’t been afforded the chance of resting many people since I’ve been the coach of Leeds, we’ve always had an injury but what we have is a well balanced squad.

“If we are to be genuine contenders we need to have a back line that is capable and has enough depth to withstand injury.

Hull KR taking on Leeds at Headingley in 2013. ©RLPhotos
Hull KR taking on Leeds at Headingley in 2013. ©RLPhotos

“I think the line of questions about our back line has been under the heading of you’ve got a big job managing that back line but I think it’s great, it’s a great situation to be in, it just means my decision has to be consistent and honest every week.”

One of the men in the running for a place in that back three is Tom Briscoe, who made the move to Headingley from Hull FC in Summer. He is more than familiar with this weekend’s opposition.

“I suppose if it wasn’t going to be Hull FC it would be Hull KR,” he said, on his first Super League match with Leeds Rhinos.

“It’s going to be a different experience going with Leeds, I’m sure the abuse the players get is the same as Hull FC going there as well [laughs]. No, it can’t get that bad surely! There will be no love lost, though, it will be as hostile as ever.

“I’ve played there many times when it’s been sold out but with the new stand and the bigger crowd it will just enhance that experience.”

Leeds Rhinos’ 19-man squad: Zak Hardaker, Ben Jones-Bishop, Kallum Watkins, Joel Moon, Ryan Hall, Danny McGuire, Rob Burrow, Kylie Leuluai, Paul Aiton, Jamie Peacock, Carl Ablett, Kevin Sinfield, Stevie Ward, Brett Delaney, Ryan Bailey, Chris Clarkson, Tom Briscoe, Liam Sutcliffe, Brad Singleton.

Hull KR’s 19-man squad:
Travis Burns, Keal Carlile, Ben Cockayne, Neville Costigan, Greg Eden, James Green, Craig Hall, David Hodgson, Josh Hodgson, Graeme Horne, Kris Keating, Jamie Langley, Kevin Larroyer, Justin Poore, Liam Salter, Adam Walker, Jonathan Walker, Kris Welham, Michael Weyman.

What the bookies think
The Rhinos are heavy favourites, with a best price of just 4/9 at BetVictor. Hull KR are 11/4 outsiders, with a draw 25/1.

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