Donald ducks in to lead Rhinos' charge

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The Independent Online

Super League's reigning champions, Leeds, get a timely boost today for their steady climb up this season's table. Included in their squad to go to Bradford after a 13-match absence is their winger, Scott Donald. The Australian has not played since dislocating his shoulder against Salford in February.

"I'm not the best watcher, so it's been tough watching the boys from the sidelines, but they've done well to get things back on track after a tough start to the season," he said.

Donald's return will allow Lee Smith to move to full-back, in place of Brent Webb, who failed this week in his appeal against a two-match suspension for a reckless tackle. Leeds are still without three injured internationals – Jamie Peacock, Rob Burrow and Ali Lauitiiti.

The key for the Bulls is having their play-maker, Matt Orford, back after his own shoulder injury which has kept him out of the last two matches. His return is doubly welcome in the absence of Brett Kearney, who has not recovered from the ankle injury he suffered last week, while Jamie Langley is also missing with a quad strain.

Today's other big match is at Warrington, where Huddersfield need to show that they have put their recent uncertainties behind them. After weeks of rumour and conjecture, the Giants now know that their captain, Brett Hodgson, is joining Warrington next season, while their coach, Nathan Brown, is returning to Australia – with his assistant, Paul Anderson, emerging as the favourite to replace him.

Huddersfield also have a 60-4 thrashing by the Wolves in the Cup two weeks ago to avenge. They can hardly play as badly as they did that day, but whether that will be good enough at the Halliwell Jones Stadium is another matter.

Castleford have Kyle Wood, on loan from Huddersfield, in line to make his debut against Hull. The scrum-half is a possible replacement for Brent Sherwin, who left for Catalan Dragons last week. Michael Shenton, widely expected to move elsewhere at the end of the season, is back at centre after a four-match absence.

Wakefield do not have their new Samoan signing, Charlie Laeano, ready to make his debut against Harlequins, who will be trying to build on their vastly improved form at Belle Vue.

In the Championship, Leigh will expect to bounce back from the midweek defeat by Featherstone that cost them top place in the table by beating struggling Whitehaven. The Cumbrians, with just two wins all season, have signed the former Hull utility back Motu Tony.

The most shell-shocked side lining up today must be the Gateshead Thunder, who conceded a mammoth 132 points at Blackpool last week. They have a slightly stronger looking team available for the Championship One fixture against Workington.

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