In purely Super League terms, there will be little at stake but local pride when Hull meet Hull KR at high noon today. Hull, after a disappointing campaign that cost Peter Sharp his job, will not make the play-offs. Indeed, if there was still relegation rather than the system of franchise allocation that will be completedon Tuesday, all their attention would be on the foot of the table.
Rovers started their second season in Super League well enough, but a run of six defeats, ended when they beat Wigan last week, means it would take a remarkable sequence of results to get them into the top six. Despite that, there will be over 20,000 at the KC Stadium to show that, for all the impending arrival of Premiership football, this is a fanatical rugby town, where domestic bragging rights matter.
It looks as though the game will be denied the extra frisson of the former Rovers scrum-half James Webster making his debut for Hull. A space had been left for the Australian in the Hull squad, but the British passport that would have exempted him from the overseas quota had still not arrived yesterday.
With the injury-prone Adam Dykes still missing the Hull coach, Richard Agar, would have loved to have Webster available. "But we view James as long-term at the club," he said. "It's not just about one game."
Rovers' coach, Justin Morgan, has Shaun Briscoe, Peter Fox, Chris Chester and Ben Cockayne ready to return.
Harlequins, thanks to the brawl that ended last week's game at Catalans Dragons, are without five suspended players against Castleford. That means a further test of Brian McDermott's confidence in his young local players. He has named Dylen Skee, Jamie O'Callaghan and Adam Janowski in his squad; they have three previous Super League matches between them. Cas have Awen Guttenbeil and Craig Huby back for a match they will fancy their chances of winning.
Bradford have named Sam Burgess in their 19-man squad to face Wakefield, despite waiting for the results of a shoulder scan that could end his season. St Helens also face an anxious wait to learn the extent of Paul Sculthorpe's hamstring injury after the former Great Britain captain lasted just a few minutes of their match at Wigan on Friday. Lee Gilmour must also be a doubt for Saturday's Challenge Cup semi-final at Leeds after missing the second half at Wigan with concussion.Reuse content