Wood holds key to Wolves' hopes

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The Independent Online

Warrington are set to throw Nathan Wood straight back into the fray for their Powergen Challenge Cup tie at Leeds today.

The Australian scrum-half has been out since February with a knee injury but has been included in the Wolves 18-man squad for Headingley. The signs are that he will start the game, allowing Chris Bridge to move to centre in place of the injured Toa Kohe-Love.

Wood's regular half-back partner, Lee Briers, will be glad to see him back. "His enthusiasm rubs off on everybody else," Briers said. "He's an organiser and a great competitor." Warrington plan to include another Australian, Chris Leikvoll, as they try to reverse their recent bad record against the Rhinos, who have had to regroup this week after the novel experience of defeat on Monday night.

"Wakefield outplayed us and that can happen on a given night," said the Rhinos coach, Tony Smith. "I think that result will do us a whole lot of good."

Leeds, the cup favourites and victors over Warrington in their last seven meetings, will be without Barrie McDermott and Wayne McDonald, but they have Andrew Dunemann, Danny Ward and Jamie Jones-Buchanan back to start.

Today's other ties see British sides venturing into France, with the amateurs of Wath Brow Hornets playing Toulouse and Keighley at Pia. The third of the French clubs, the Super League-bound Union Treiziste Catalan, are at home in Perpignan to Hull KR tomorrow and there is a strong possibility of all three being in the fifth-round draw.

The pick of tomorrow's other games are at Huddersfield, where the holders, St Helens, are in action, and Wakefield, who entertain Hull. Saints are strongly fancied to progress, but Huddersfield had a good Easter.

Widnes will introduce three new players to their crowd at half-time in their tie against Swinton. Having already signed Gray Viane from St Helens and Jamie Durban on loan from Warrington, the Vikings yesterday enlisted the winger Richie Barnett from Hull on a one-month deal.

"In the space of a week, we have brought in three young players from good clubs who want to prove themselves," said the Widnes coach, Frank Endacott. "It is now my job and the rest of the coaching staff's to get the best out of them."

Salford and Leigh will have to be careful at Rochdale and Batley respectively, but one of the best contests could be at Halifax, where Castleford are the visitors. Cas will include Brad Davis, who chose to join them rather than Halifax last year.

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