Jack Walker previews Thursday night’s clash between Leeds and Toronto as both sides look for a statement win.
Leeds put in a sensational performance to smash Warrington 36-0 last time out. The Rhinos ran rings around a Wolves side that simply could not handle the Yorkshire team’s attacking fluidity – with Jack Walker the standout player.
The Wolfpack, however, were on the receiving end of a wooden spoon as St. Helens coasted to a 0-32 victory against Super League’s newcomers. Toronto have lost all five matches thus far, but could move off the bottom of the table with a win by a margin greater than 19 points.
Leeds are without star man Walker who is out through injury. The young full-back picked up the knock in last week’s win.
Liam Sutcliffe, however, is back in contention having recovered from a knee problem.
Leeds Rhinos squad: Newman, Hurrell, Handley, Lui, Gale, Seumanufagai, Prior, Mellor, Martin, Dwyer, L Sutcliffe, Myler, Cuthbertson, Oledzki, Smith, McLelland, Briscoe, Donaldson, A Sutcliffe, Holroyd, Greenwood.
Already boasting a healthy squad, Toronto are boosted by Bodene Thompson’s availability. Thompson avoided a ban following his sending off in last weekend’s defeat to Saints.
Toronto Wolfpack squad: O’Brien, Russell, Leutele, Kay, McCrone, Sidlow, Ackers, Mullally, Dixon, Thompson, Wilkin, Lussick, Springer, Olbison, Wallace, Williams, Miloudi, Gigot, Wells, Kilner.
This is the first meeting between the two sides. Having avoided each other ever since Toronto’s inception into the Challenge Cup, the level of anticipation for this one has been growing ever since the fixtures were released – especially for the away side, and their fans, given the historic record of the opposition.
With no previous scorelines to go off, predicting this one in terms of a head-to-head record is impossible, but it is clear to see who the favourites will be with even the slightest of glances at the form guide.
BATTLE TO WATCH
Richie Myler vs Matthew Russell
Neither player are the most famous name on the team sheets, but Myler has scored in Leeds’ last two matches, with Russell boasting the same record until the loss to St. Helens last time out.
Scrum-half Myler’s importance to the Rhinos machine cannot be understated. His rugged determination and quality in the oppositions’ twenty makes him both a reliable source of defence and a serious threat in attack.
Full-back, or winger, Russell meanwhile, has shown enough in the opening stages of the 2020 campaign that he is a driving force in anything and everything positive that Toronto produce.
Given that Thursday’s hosts have scored 110 points in their last three games, only conceding 18 in that time, and Toronto have suffered a -64 points difference in the same period, this one almost feels like a foregone conclusion. Toronto, however, will have something to say about that.
Date: Thursday 5th March 2020
Venue: Emerald Headingly
Kick-off: 19:45 GMT