Defending Challenge Cup holders next month they may be, but Leeds must tonight kick-start their stalled Super League season. "The facts speak for themselves," said their coach, Dean Lance, as they prepared for the game at Halifax. "We have played two games and have no points, so we cannot afford to let our minds wander."
Lance springs a couple of surprises by recalling Karl Pratt on the right wing and giving Dean Lawford a rare start at hooker. That means Lee Jackson is again on the bench, alongside the young prop, Danny Ward.
Unbeaten Halifax have three former Leeds players likely to figure - their player-coach, Gary Mercer, and the three-quarters, Marvin Golden and Phil Hassan, who are both fit again. "Two or three of us are definitely looking forward to this one," said Golden, who moved to Halifax in the close season. "I have some very good friends at Leeds and they will be hungry for their first win in Super League, but we have an unbeaten record that we have no intention of giving up."
With Stephen Holgate still on his way back after a virus, David Foster will start in the second row for Halifax, who have signed his name-sake, Matt Foster, on a month's loan from Keighley. "He has the potential to be a Super League player and will further strengthen our squad," said Mercer of the 23-year-old full-back.
Jason Nicol, the former South Sydney centre who only arrived from Australia this week, will make his debut for Salford against Wigan on Sunday. "He's a big lump and he's going to take some holding," predicted the Salford coach, John Harvey, who is likely to slot Nicol straight into the centres with Jason Webber moving to stand-off.
The Wigan coach, Frank Endacott, has named Lee Gilmour and Simon Haughton in a novel second-row pairing, with the regular incumbents, Denis Betts and Mick Cassidy, shunted to the bench. Tony Smith returns at stand-off after his one-match suspension.
Hull say that they will have paid off all their debts to players inherited from the former administration at the club within the next three weeks. "There are five people still left to be paid and they will have all their money within the next 21 days," said the Hull chief executive, Shane Richardson.
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