Hull hope three Smiths will unsettle Leeds

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As the dust settles from World War III - otherwise known as the Wigan-Warrington unpleasantness of last Friday - the game goes on trial again today as Hull face Leeds in the Challenge Cup quarter-final.

As the dust settles from World War III - otherwise known as the Wigan-Warrington unpleasantness of last Friday - the game goes on trial again today as Hull face Leeds in the Challenge Cup quarter-final.

This time, it is the behaviour of supporters rather than players that will be under unavoidable scrutiny. Less than a year ago, in the semi-final at the McAlpine Stadium, Hull lost to Leeds and joined a live television audience in looking on in horror as their fans staged the nearest thing to a riot rugby league has seen.

It caused even more of a knee-jerk over-reaction than the high tackles and haymakers at Wigan and the reason was the same - the zealous, sometimes over-zealous, way the game guards its reputation as a family affair. There was talk of banning Hull from the Cup, kicking them out of Super League, even of forcibly shipping them back to Gateshead. In the cooler light of day, the rhetoric returned to the realms of reality and the club was fined £20,000 and put on its best behaviour for another £30,000. A little like World War Wigan, it was a nasty business, but not quite the end of civilisation as we know it.

Hull cannot be accused of failing to respond to the lessons of that afternoon in Huddersfield. They have banned a number of the supporters, held what amounted to an exorcism to expel the evil spirits and even appointed an officer to welcome opposing fans.

Their chief executive, Shane Richardson, will nevertheless be a little twitchy today, given the history between the clubs. "We've doubled the number of stewards, but that's because we expect double our usual crowd," he said. "We've turned things around here. The only thing I'm worried about is idiots coming in from outside."

Provided it is not overshadowed by events on the periphery, the tie has the potential to be a memorable one. Leeds have looked good so far and expect to have two high-calibre Australians, Brett Mullins and Bradley Clyde, back after injury. Hull, however, have been sorting themselves on the pitch as well as off it, even if signing no less than three Smiths smacks of a club seeking refuge in anonymity.

"It gives us problems with nicknames," their coach, Shaun McRae, said. "Tony Smith is 'Casper', Jason Smith is 'Smithy' and Chris Smith seems to be 'Smiggy'. I don't know where that one has come from."

All three have made an early contribution to their new club. Jason, an Australian loose forward of genuine class, is expected to be fit after an ankle injury, while Tony adds a wealth of experience at scrum-half and Chris an abundance of aggression on the wing.

Warrington are without the suspended Toa Kohe-Love and Tawera Nikau against Villeneuve tomorrow, but have quality replacements back from injury in Andrew Gee and Alan Hunte. Lee Penny is dropped.

In tomorrow's other tie, Wakefield will be without Willie Poching and Brad Davis against Bradford.

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