Leeds count on McGuire to boost stuttering season

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The Independent Online

Danny McGuire will give Leeds a major boost today when he returns for his first game this year. The Test stand-off has been out of action since damaging his knee in last year's play-offs and has missed the Rhinos' uninspiring start to the season.

He will make his comeback this afternoon against the Crusaders, although they will be without the suspended Ryan Bailey and the injured Kallum Watkins. That could mean a first chance for the 18-year-old back George Elliott, who came to Headingley on a joint-code contract.

The Crusaders, whose crushing Good Friday demolition of the league leaders, Huddersfield, counts as the most stunning result of a season of shocks, recall Gareth Thomas, who was rested for that match. Ben Flower is also back in the squad but Vince Mellars is ruled out.

The Catalan Dragons will try to make it five wins in a row against a Bradford side whose utility back Brett Kearney broke his hand in the narrow defeat by Leeds and will be out for six to eight weeks. Mick Potter has added Paul Sykes, Steve Crossley and Ian Sibbit to the squad that travelled to Perpignan.

St Helens, at home to Castleford, will be without Gary Wheeler, with what they fear is a long-term shoulder injury from a challenge in the defeat by Wigan. Royce Simmons considered recalling the Bath-bound Kyle Eastmond but he has a chest infection that ruled him out.

In the longer term, Saints are resigned to losing their prop forward and England Test captain, James Graham, to the Canterbury Bulldogs at the end of this season.

Cas have a mini-slump to pull out of, with a draw at Harlequins and a defeat by Wakefield in their past two outings. The challenge for Wakefield is matching that performance in the second match of their Easter programme, against Wigan today.

The leaders, Warrington, are at home to Hull, which means a trip back to one of his former clubs for Martin Gleeson, making his second appearance in the black and white.

Hull KR, now a dismal 10th following their Good Friday derby defeat, are at home to Harlequins, who have heeded the call of their coach, Rob Powell, to start competing as fiercely as they were at the start of the season.

The big game in the Co-operative Championship pits first against second when Leigh, still unbeaten, go to Featherstone. The only perfect record in Championship 1 belongs to Swinton, who will try to preserve it at fifth-placed Doncaster.