Round 12 of the Super League season continues on Friday evening with two more games behind closed doors at the Totally Wicked Stadium.
Hosts for the night St Helens get the action under way when they face Hull Kingston Rovers just two weeks after their previous encounter with the Robins.
Then Leeds Rhinos face Huddersfield Giants, having beaten them in a golden-point thriller on the first day of Super League’s post-lockdown return, but before those games we take a look at some talking points…
St Helens vs Hull K R
September 11, 2020, 5:55pm
Leeds Rhinos vs Huddersfield Giants
September 11, 2020, 8:15pm
Smith eyes ‘another great challenge’
Hull KR come into this week’s match against the reigning Super League champions on the back of one of the most eye-catching results of the season so far.
Tony Smith’s men defeated previous league leaders Wigan Warriors 34-18 last Thursday to record only their second win of the season, winning plenty of praise for their entertaining, attacking style of rugby in that match too.
Rovers displayed the same approach against Saints in Round 10 when they made them work hard for a 32-18 win and while head coach Smith’s great entertainers respect their opponents’ strengths, there will be no change in their approach.
“I’ve got no doubt the fact that we competed with them for so long last time will be a motivator for St Helens and the new table will be a motivator for them as well,” he said.
“It’s another great challenge for us. They are probably the best team in the comp and they will want to prove that.
“We have a healthy respect for them but, when we put it together, we can challenge teams for periods of the game. Whether we can do it for 80 minutes, who knows? But we’ll certainly give it our best shot.”
Hull KR welcome back prop Mitch Garbutt after missing the last two matches with a calf injury, while Matt Parcell is set to return and share the hooking duties with Jez Litten, who played the full 80 minutes in the win over Wigan.
Simm earns praise from Woolf
Rovers are the only team to have scored more than six points against St Helens since the season resumed, with Leeds and Castleford Tigers also being nilled by Kristian Woolf’s side.
They have racked up 178 points in the course of making it five games unbeaten since the season resumed as well, and have the experience of James Roby and Zeb Taia back in the 21-man squad for this clash after they missed last week’s 54-6 win over Huddersfield Giants.
One of the younger members of the squad who impressed last week, though, was Josh Simm, with the 19-year-old centre making 120 metres and four tackle busts.
He could well start again with Woolf resisting the temptation to thrust Mark Percival straight back into action after a spell out injured, and the head coach was delighted with how Simm performed.
“I thought Josh Simm did really well,” Woolf told Saints TV. “He’s a young bloke who has been knocking on the door for an opportunity all year, really
🔴⚪ SQUAD NEWS 🔴⚪
There are 2️⃣ changes to our 21 man squad ahead of Friday's clash with @hullkrofficial at our @twstadium home! 🏠
⬅️ @josh_eaves13, @Dodd1Lewis
➡️ James Roby, @JZTaia https://t.co/nbFwdJOspb
“I thought he really took his chance, we know he’s a real athlete, strong and powerful with the ball, and quick at the same time.
“But defensively he handled it really well and did all the things we asked him to do, so we’re really happy with his game.”
Leeming ready for Giants backlash
Super League could have hardly asked for a more thrilling way to return to action than when Leeds and Huddersfield met at Headingley on the first weekend of the competition’s resumption.
The Rhinos fought back from 20 points down late on to force golden-point extra time, going on to snatch a 27-26 win over the Giants thanks to Luke Gale’s drop goal.
It was a match which saw Kruise Leeming make his Leeds debut against his former club as well, and the hooker expects his former team-mates to have that game at the forefront of their minds.
“They caught us a bit off-guard last time, but that won’t be happening again,” Leeming told Rhinos TV. “We need a win.
“They’ll be coming thinking they definitely should have won that game. It was a good last 20 minutes from us, but they should have won that game, so they’ll owe us one.
“They’ll be coming fired up and they’ll be gunning for us. Especially with the [points percentage] format, you can’t afford to drop any points anywhere so it’s a massive game for us.”
Leeds Rhinos Head Coach Richard Agar has named his 21 man squad to face Huddersfield Giants this Friday at the Totally Wicked Stadium with Konrad Hurrell returning in place of Jarrod O'Connor this week pic.twitter.com/oAPTsBus3a
The Rhinos, who had last week’s game against Wakefield Trinity postponed, are boosted for the match by the return of centre Konrad Hurrell, plus back-row pair James Donaldson and Alex Mellor.
Trout out to prove a point
Another player who is set to feature against his former club is Owen Trout, who joined Huddersfield from Leeds over the winter.
The forward spent most of last season on loan at Championship sides Dewsbury Rams and Featherstone Rovers, but his try on his debut was one of the few high points for the Giants in last week’s heavy defeat against St Helens.
Trout is hoping that performance has done enough to earn him a place in the matchday 17 on Friday as he is eager to put on a good display against the Rhinos.
📰 Squad News!
Chris McQueen, Ashton Golding and Darnell McIntosh are among the new faces in this week's squad to face Leeds Rhinos on Friday
What do you think of our Derby squad? 👇 pic.twitter.com/rjVFtGgXG7
“It’s always good playing against your old club, you’ve got a point to prove and, hopefully, I will be in the squad to be able to put on a show for everyone,” Trout told the Huddersfield Examiner.
“I feel like, because we have got a few more players back, we’re just building the intensity into the training sessions. It’s making huge competition for spots in the squad, so it’s good and we will be ready.
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