Daniel Zealey previews Leeds Rhinos hosting Hull FC in round one of the Betfred Super League. This is what we have to look forward to.
Leeds come into this contest looking to improve on a poor 2019 by their standards. They have faced two Super League sides during pre-season. First a victory on Boxing day against Wakefield, before an away win at Wigan last week. These came either side of the Jamie Jones-Buchanan/Rob Burrow match against Bradford Bulls.
Lee Radford’s side struggled at the end of 2019 resulting in them missing out on the playoffs. With strong signings on paper, FC could have more of a say on who wins the major honours.
Like their opposition, the Black and Whites have also played three pre-season matches. First they lost to Halifax, however it was effectively their youth side. In their next two matches they came out victorious against London and Batley with near enough all the first team squad making at least one appearance.
Luke Gale is set to make his Super League debut for Leeds after moving from rivals Castleford Tigers. Matt Prior, Alex Mellor and Rhy Evans could also be making their debuts for Leeds
The Rhinos are without Ava Seumanufagai, who suffered a knee injury in last weekends win over Wigan.
21 Man Squad: Walker, Newman, Hurrell, Handley, Lui, Gale, Prior, Mellor, Martin, Ward, Dwyer, Sutcliffe, Myler, Cuthbertson, Oledzki, Evans, Smith, Mclelland, Briscoe, Donaldson, Holroyd
Hull boss Lee Radford could be giving debuts to many of his new recruits. Manu Ma’u, Josh Jones, Adam Swift, Jordan Johnstone and Ligi Sao all could feature in a Black and Whites jersey for the first time.
Mahe Fonua is also set to play after he returns to the club from West Tigers.
Hull are without captain Danny Houghton who is out due to a thumb injury.
Leeds boast a very strong record over the Black and Whites when the sides meet at Emerald Headingley. Hull finally broke their losing streak last season with a 26-24 win in July. That victory was the first time the Black and Whites had won there since 2007.
BATTLE TO WATCH
The battle to watch could be seen in the second row between Rhyse Martin and Manu Ma’u.
Martin was arguably one of the highlights in last years season for Leeds. The PNG international joined the Rhinos midway through the season and featured nine times scoring twice. He impressed recently in the friendly against Bradford, scoring twice and looked to be dangerous breaking through the line. He also looked to be a good goal kicker last season, which could help as the meeting in July was split by two points.
Manu Ma’u is set to make his Super League debut and he looks like a very exciting signing. Ma’u signed from Paramatta Eels and was a regular in their NRL campaign last year. He impressed last year resulting in being named in the Daily M team of the year. Josh Jones will feature on the other side in the second row and he was named in the Super League dream team last season after being a strong player in an over performing Salford side.
Date: Sunday February 2nd
Venue: Emerald Headingley Stadium
Kick-off: 4:45 PM