Leeds Rhinos turn to youth for Wakefield clash
Friday 23 December 2011
Leeds Rhinos fans will witness a changing of the guard on Boxing Day
when the Super League champions face Wakefield in the Heatshot Festive
Challenge at Headingley.
The new, youthful centre pairing of Kallum Watkins and Zak Hardaker will line up for the first time as Leeds officially begin life after Keith Senior, the veteran three-quarter who has been a mainstay of the side for the last decade.
While Hardaker was a member of Leeds' Grand-Final winning side in October, Watkins will be making his first appearance since the Challenge Cup final in August and both will be out to cement starting places for 2012.
Coach Brian McDermott said: "I am looking forward to seeing Zak and Kallum alongside each other in the centres.
"Both are blessed with a great deal of pace but also have a good understanding of the game."
With McDermott resting all eight members of the England Four Nations squad, Rob Burrow, Chris Clarkson - who today signed a new five-year contract - and Ian Kirke are the only other survivors from Old Trafford, while front-row recruits Richard Moore and Darrell Griffin - both former Wakefield players - will make their first appearances for the club.
New Wildcats coach Richard Agar has named no fewer than 14 of his club's 18 close-season signings in a 20-man squad, including former Leeds full-back Richard Mathers.
Australia NRL recruits Isaac John, Tim Smith, Steve Southern and Dean Collis are also among the host of newcomers for the visitors.
Another club with a raft of new faces are Widnes, who warm up for their return to Super League with a traditional Boxing Day derby at Warrington.
Coach Denis Betts is set to field eight new signings, including hooker Scott Moore, whose last match was for St Helens in the Grand Final, and ex-Crusaders trio Hep Cahill, Lloyd White and Frank Winterstein.
Warrington will have new signing Stefan Ratchford renewing his old Salford half-back partnership with Richie Myler, while ex-Leigh prop Chris Hill will also make his first appearance.
Wolves coach Tony Smith said: "It's fantastic that Widnes are back in Super League and it creates a local derby for us once again."
It will be Warrington's only match before they fly out to Australia for a three-week training camp, culminating in a game against South Sydney on January 28.
New Castleford coach Ian Millward has named three new signings in his team to play Bradford, also on Boxing Day.
They are centre Josh Griffin, prop Steve Nash and second rower Lee Mitchell while academy half-back Ben Johnson starts at scrum-half in place of Danny Orr, who has a calf strain.
Bradford will give a run-out to new recruit Manase Manuokafoa, as well as trialist Phil Joseph and Academy internationals John Bateman and Liam McAvoy.
Paul Scholes: Manchester United vs Liverpool - I don't understand why Brendan Rodgers was not more attacking against Basel
Jesus Christ plays for Chelsea - that's what one in five children thinks
Transfer Talk: Nemanja Vidic to return to Manchester United; Hazard to leave Chelsea; Sunderland want Radamel Falcao
Frank Warren column: Don't bet on Amir Khan landing pay day against Floyd Mayweather
Manchester United transfer news: Kevin Strootman move edges closer
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
Shock poll shows voters believe Ukip is to the left of the Tories
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
New era of cheap oil 'will destroy green revolution'
Ukip founder Alan Sked and Nigel Farage 'begged Enoch Powell to stand as a candidate'
Ukip candidate jokes about 'shooting peasants' in racist and homophobic rant