Rea refuses excuses for Quins crisis

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The Independent Online

Harlequins must spring the biggest surprise of what has already been an unpredictable Super League season if they are to earn their first win at their new home today.

The re-branded London operation has got off to a bad start at the re-branded Twickenham Stoop, with defeats by St Helens, Wakefield and Castleford. This evening's opponents, Leeds, are as formidable as Saints and Quins have an ever-lengthening injury list to wrestle with.

Even with the likely return of Joe Mbu and Pat Weisner, Quins could have as many as nine regular first-teamers missing. That has forced their coach, Tony Rea, to draft in three young reserves for possible debuts, but he refuses to accept any sympathy for his team's early-season misfortunes.

"I don't care who we're playing and I've told the players that," he said. "This isn't about 'poor old me'. We've got players injured. It's about digging deep and getting the job done.

"We've had to have a look at some of the young guys. Strength and solidarity are the key words."

Quins' task is made more difficult by having to face a virtually full-strength Leeds. The Great Britain captain Jamie Peacock returns after minor knee surgery and only Jamie Jones-Buchanan is unavailable, suffering with a hip injury.

Salford, the over-achievers of the campaign so far, gained further credibility in an honourable defeat at Headingley last week and will be favourites to win in Perpignan this evening, despite the Catalan Dragons' morale-boosting victory at Warrington.

John Wilshere could be back for the Reds after missing the loss at Leeds, while the French side should benefit from their first full week of training under their new Australian coach, Mick Potter.

In tomorrow's games Wakefield, who have brought back Steve Ferres as chief executive in an internal reshuffle, will face Warrington without the hugely influential David Solomona due to a back injury. Jamie Rooney is back in the squad after a long absence since knee surgery.

Warrington, so disappointing against the Dragons, recall Mark Hilton and Paul Noone to their pack, but there is still no sign of Paul Rauhihi making his long-delayed debut.

Castleford, at home to Huddersfield, will be without Danny Sculthorpe for four weeks with a broken thumb, but expect to have Ben Roarty and Craig Huby fit to return. Richard Fa'aoso is suspended for one match, so Willie Manu could make his first start.