Super League returns - Australian Rugby league News
Backglobalrugbyleague - Sat, 02 Feb 2008 07:41:00 GMT
It's time to pull out your scarfs and jerseys once again as the ultimate donnybrook that is the English Super League kicks off season 2008 this weekend.
The new season gets officially underway when reigning 2007 champions, Leeds, battle last season's surprise packet, Hull Kingston Rovers at Headingley Stadium. Kick-off is at 6pm.
These two squads were meant to play each other in round 4 but that game was brought forward to accommodate the World Club Challenge.
Round 1 doesn't officially commence until Friday the 8th of February when Warrington tackle Hull.
The Rhinos are at full strength with all 17 players who won the Grand Final in October named in their 18-man squad while Hull KR coach Justin Morgan has lost Ben Fisher to a wrist injury. Rhys Lovegrove is also out and stand-off Paul Cooke is banned until 17 March.
It will be a tough ask for the red and white underdogs who have recruited 9 new members including former Leeds favourite Chev Walker
So who will win the battle of experiences versus youth?
The money is on Leeds who have not conceded a game to Hull KR at home since 1985. But after defeating both Wigan and this week's opponent back to back last season, nobody is writing off the Rovers.
There is one significant movement at Leeds which will play a pivotal role in 2008, that being the changing of the guard with Great Britain boss Tony Smith bowing out to make room for ex New Zealand coach, Brian McLennan.
McLennan has good memories of coaching in England for it was at Elland Road in 2005 that he helped the Kiwis cause one of the biggest upsets in international league by thrashing Australia 24-0 in the Tri-Nations final.
Surviving their first season back in the big-time, the Rovers are viewed by some as dark horses when it comes to making the play-offs.
“We want to make sure we do ourselves justice and finish higher up the ladder than we did last year", Coach Justin Morgan told Super League.co.uk
It's not hard to understand why the bookies have shown enough faith though in the Rhinos to win back to back titles.
The Rhinos made no signings at all during the off-season. That's confidence.
Perhaps though Hull KR have the most to gain from a potential win in their first big clash of 2008.
"We want to go to Headingley and spoil the party," Hull KR centre Jake Webster told the BBC.
"There can be no better way to start the season than to beat the defending champions."
Webb, Donald, Toopi, Senior, Smith, McGuire, Burrow, Leuluai, Diskin, Peacock, Jones-Buchanan, Ellis, Sinfield, Lauitiiti, Bailey, Scruton, Kirke, Ablett.
HULL KINGSTON ROVERS:
Briscoe, Fox, Walker, J. Webster, Fitzhenry, Gene, J. Webster, Vella, Menzies, Mills, Chester, Newton, Galea, Murrell, Aizue, Crossman, Cockayne, K. Netherton. - Read More, Here