By STEVE MASCORD
DURING a week in which his home nation of Germany plays an international against the Netherlands, Jimmy Keinhorst returns for Hull KR in what could be his first appearance of the year.
Ireland international Ethan Ryan is out for the season with a broken hand while newly-re-signed fullback Will Dagger (knee) and second rower Matty Stornton (hand) were also unavailable for selection.
Coach Tony Smith welcomes back halfback Ryan Brierley from injury and Will Tate was included in the 21-man squad.
Brett Ferres and Adam Cuthbertson are the additions to the 21-man list of Leeds coach Richard Agar while youngsters Sam Walters and Jarrod O’Connor were called in.
Brad Dwyer is still recovering from Covid-19 and wasn’t considered and Alex Sutcliffe was banned. Anticipated comebacks for Cameron Smith and Jack Walker have been delayed.
After the giddy heights of defeating Wigan a fortnight ago, avant guard Hull KR crashed to earth on Friday night when they were flogged 48-18 by Leeds – who just happen to be their opponents again this week in Super League’s opening match of the round.
It’s hard to see the result being reversed, even if Tony Smith’s battle-beaten side can manage to narrow the margin.
Leeds believe they found the secret to containing the off-the-cuff attacking style which has won the Robins many admirers since the restart of Super League.
“When they got some offloads, they didn’t really hurt us too much,” Agar said. “We were really alive to the kicking game and the trick kicks. We did a really good job and and a really concentrated job on that. They have been troubling a lot of teams.”
Agar warns that the Rhinos are still in a transitional phase and certainly can’t yet be compared to the likes of Wigan and St Helens.
“We’re still a way to go if we’re to do that on a consistent basis,” he said. “We’ve got a level to step up to consistency-wise.
“As a coach, I’ve got a certain amount of time to get this club competing at that level.”
It’s been reported during the week that even though talented forward Liam Sutcliffe is transfer listed, Leeds do want to keep him.
The match is also a significant one for rugby league fans in Australia and South East Asia with rugbyleaguehub.com to broadcast it. As a non-televised game it would normally be only available to season ticket holders of the two clubs who reside within the UK.
A better start is key to a more competitive showing, according to Smith. “We took too long to get off the bus,” he said of the Challenge Cup quarter-final at the Totally Wicked Stadium
Who To Watch: York and Bradford have this week been linked to veteran off-contract Cuthbertson, who is not quite the off-loading dynamo he once was but will be keen to prove he is still worthy of a berth in the top flight competition.
Favourite: Hull KR have the capacity to bounce back but a loss to Leeds will raise serious questions about whether they have actually progressed.
My tip: A much more competitive performance from Rovers but Leeds should open up a double-figure margin in the final quarter. Leeds by 10.
This is our televised match this week. It can be viewed at watch.rugbyleaguehub.com.
This preview first appeared in The Front Row. Purchase your physical program HERE