Watch Leeds Rhinos go head-to-head with Warrington Wolves at Emerald Headingley on Friday, live on Sky Sports Arena and Mix from 7pm
By Marc Bazeley
Last Updated: 27/02/20 1:57pm
We take a look at what is being said ahead of Friday’s Super League showdown between Leeds Rhinos and Warrington Wolves, live on Sky Sports…
Senior runs rule over Rhinos
It has been a good couple of weeks for Leeds, having shaken off the opening-weekend defeat at home to a rampant Hull FC outfit and then having to wait to make amends due to the trip to Huddersfield Giants being postponed because of Storm Ciara.
Running in over a half-century of points in defeating Hull Kingston Rovers and battling to a 22-8 win away to 2019 Grand Final runners-up Salford Red Devils last Saturday have lifted the Rhinos up to fifth in the early standings.
They are above Friday’s opponents Warrington on points difference as well and Leeds great Keith Senior is pleased with the start his former side have made, along with how new half-back Luke Gale has adjusted to life at Headingley after his injury woes in recent years.
But, speaking to the Golden Point podcast, the ex-Rhinos centre believes there is one area the team need to strengthen in.
“I still think they’re lacking a little bit of depth in the pack – I think they need a good, strike-force player out there,” Senior told Sky Sports.
“But there’s a lot of pressure on Luke Gale to perform. He’s not played much for a few years and he’s starting to gel, and he seems to have started off really, really well.”
Leeds Rhinos vs Warrington Wolves
February 28, 2020, 7:00pm
Leeds have boosted their pack strength ahead of Friday’s match with the signing of Joe Greenwood from Wigan Warriors on a two-month loan and Senior believes more experience is needed to help the next generation of players emerging from the Rhinos’ youth set-up.
“I think the older heads are having to fight for their positions because the young bucks and young guns are starting to set the tone as well,” Senior said.
“Given two or three more years they’ll be outstanding players, but they need somebody there to help them along with that.”
Currie feels the benefit
Sitting out Great Britain’s winter tour has proven the right decision for Ben Currie after a strong start to the season from the Warrington second row.
England international Currie made the difficult choice to skip the Lions’ return to the international stage in a bid to get a full pre-season under his belt after struggles with knee injuries in recent years.
He has appeared in all four of the Wolves’ Super League games so far and is delighted with the results after sacrificing the opportunity to tour the Southern Hemisphere.
“It’s been three or four years since I last had a full pre-season,” Currie said. “I came in a little bit earlier as well so I could have some time off to get married in between.
“Pre-season went perfect for me. I got three months of training, fitness and strength under my belt and you could really see it, the way I was training at the back end of pre-season.
“I felt back to how it used to be and I’m happy with how I’ve started the season so hopefully it’s only going to benefit me.”
Currie and his team-mates are aiming to make it three wins from their opening five game against Leeds at Headingley.
The chances of doing that have received a boost with a welcome return to the Warrington squad for skipper Chris Hill after serving a three-match suspension, although Matty Ashton is still ruled out with a hamstring injury.
Agar still waiting on Ward
While visitors Warrington have their captain available again, Leeds are still without Stevie Ward due to the concussion he suffered in the defeat to Hull FC in Round 1 of the season.
Leeds Rhinos Head Coach Richard Agar has named his 21 man squad for this Friday’s clash with Warrington Wolves at Emerald Headingley, kick off 7.45pm. Joe Greenwood could make his debut as he replaces Liam Sutcliffe and Rhyse Martin returns in place of Rhys Evans. pic.twitter.com/FRNI0HFwLy
— Leeds Rhinos (@leedsrhinos) February 26, 2020
The second row’s absence led to the aforementioned signing of Greenwood on loan, with Ward struggling to clear the RFL’s stringent return to play protocols which players must undergo following a head injury.
Leeds head coach Richard Agar laid out the process which has delayed Ward’s return to the side.
“Stevie is week-by-week,” Agar told the Yorkshire Post. “He has got to get through the protocols and at the moment he is not getting through them.
“He is starting them and then any time he shows some symptoms they have to restart them. We will see later in the week if he is getting through those.”
The Rhinos do, however, have vice-captain Rhyse Martin available again to face the Wolves after missing the last two games due to a chest infection.
Wolves work on improved performance
When Warrington defeated reigning champions St Helens 19-0 in Round 2 of the 2020 Super League season, many observers viewed it as them stamping their mark on the competition for the coming year.
Since then, however, the Wolves have suffered an 18-8 defeat away to Wakefield Trinity and had to dig in before overcoming a spirited Toronto Wolfpack 32-22 last Friday after racing into a 16-point lead.
Getting back to winning ways was all Danny Walker was concerned about last time out, but the Warrington hooker is optimistic they can produce an improved display when they travel to Headingley this week.
“It wasn’t the prettiest of wins (against Toronto), but a win’s a win – we got the two points which is all that matters at this stage of the season,” said Walker.
“We’ve been working on righting a few wrongs from last week. We’ve worked on a few things to improve on from last week. We’ve focused on areas in which we can hurt Leeds and what we see as weak areas.”