Hull Kingston Rovers have received a double boost on the eve of their Super League play-off at Leeds tonight.
Not only is their full-back Shaun Briscoe included despite suffering a worrying shoulder injury against Wakefield last weekend, but Scott Murrell is fit to face his former club after recovering ahead of schedule from a broken bone in his hand.
If the nominations for this week's Dream Team are to be believed, these are the two best teams in the country, with four inclusions each.
One of Rovers' representatives, Michael Dobson, also won the Albert Goldthorpe Medal as the competition's best player this week, but he has a healthy respect for his Leeds opposite number tonight, Rob Burrow. "I've got the vote this time, but he's one of the best in Super League and he could definitely play in the NRL," he said.
Leeds have their captain, Kevin Sinfield, back after resting a bruised cheekbone and Keith Senior and Jamie Jones-Buchanan returning from suspension.
Stefan Ratchford's form for Salford has won him a place in Tony Smith's England squad for the Four Nations, the first 13 selections for which were named yesterday. That could mean a quick reunion with his former half-back partner, Richie Myler, who is one of five Warrington players included.
The other eye-catching selection is Hull's 19-year-old winger Tom Briscoe, who missed most of the season with a broken leg. Other players will be added as their teams are eliminated from the play-offs, but the bulk of the team to play Wales in Pontypridd on 17 October will come from this first tranche.
The Huddersfield full-back, Brett Hodgson, has been named the Rugby League Writers' Player of the Year. He is also one of the nominees, with Warrington's Adrian Morley and James Graham of St Helens, for Man of Steel, voted on by Super League players.
Wakefield, who face the Catalan Dragons in a sudden-death play-off tomorrow, have signed Sam Obst to a two-year contract extension. The Bradford forward, Matt James, has signed for Harlequins.
South Sydney have sacked both their coach, Jason Taylor, and their Huddersfield-bound forward, David Fa'alogo, for fighting at an end-of- season function. The Wigan target, Michael Maguire, had been linked with the coaching job if it became vacant, but Souths have instead appointed the experienced John Lang.
Barrow became the first team into the championship grand final, beating Halifax 35-12 last night.Reuse content