Smith attempts to keep Rhinos on their toes as Cup final looms

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The Independent Online

The Rhinos play their keenest local rivals, Bradford, at Headingley tonight with Smith claiming: "I've got no idea of my team for next week. I won't be thinking about it until after the Bradford game, so there's still plenty to play for."

Smith is aware that there have been controversial omissions from Leeds sides in recent Cup finals and will not rule out the same thing happening when they face Hull in Cardiff a week tomorrow.

"It can happen. Anyone who thinks they just have to turn up could be in for a surprise, because I'll be picking people in form and who I think can do the job."

Apart from Willie Poching, who is still a doubtful starter for the final following a fractured cheekbone, Smith has a full-strength squad on duty against the Bulls and says that a local derby is the ideal preparation for the big day. "We'd rather play a hard game than play soft games and go into the final with the wrong attitude," he said.

Hull will have Paul Cooke in their side for the final, despite an eye injury that has caused concern this week and will keep him out of Sunday's game against Wigan. Cooke had feared that his place was in doubt after a collision with his team-mate, Shayne McMenemy, but has now been cleared to play.

"I'll sit out this week as an extra precaution, but if the final was this Saturday I'd probably play," he said.

"He won't play this week, but he's not in any doubt for Cardiff," said his coach, John Kear, who will also rest Richard Horne this weekend as he has a slight elbow injury.

Tommy Lee, the 17-year-old scrum-half who made an impressive debut against Leigh last week, retains his place in the squad, while Chris Chester gets the chance to stake a claim for a final place when he returns after recovering from a sternum injury.

Salford, who will send Widnes down to National League One if they beat Wakefield tonight and Widnes lose to Warrington on Sunday, have stepped up their search for a stand-off after being told by Wigan that they want to keep Danny Orr.

The London Broncos, who play St Helens tomorrow, have agreed new one-year contracts with their full-back, Zeb Luisi, and assistant coach, Rohan Smith.

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