After a disappointing campaign in 2016, Leeds Rhinos will be hoping to make Headingley a fortress once again as they welcome Salford Red Devils on Friday night.
The Rhinos struggled on their own turf last season, losing seven times and they will be keen to improve on that for the new campaign.
Leeds may have got their first win of the season against Leigh last week, but they were given quite a scare from the Centurions, and the overall team performance didn’t inspire too much confidence.
Brian McDermott’s side have been given a boost ahead of Friday’s game, welcoming back Australian duo Joel Moon and Mitch Garbutt.
Moon missed last week’s victory through concussion, while Garbutt was ruled out through illness just before the start of the game.
Veteran Jamie Jones-Buchanan has also made the squad, having avoided a suspension from the RFL Disciplinary panel.
The 35-year-old was found guilty of a Grade A charge in the victory at the Leigh Sports Village, and was fined £300 for the incident.
Leeds are still without Brett Delaney, Brett Ferres and Keith Galloway through injury while the likes of Jordan Lilley, Sam Hallas, Mikolaj Oledzki and Josh Jordan-Roberts remain unavailable whilst on loan to Bradford Bulls.
Salford, like their opponents, go into Friday’s game after picking up their first league win of the season, seeing off Huddersfield 30-20 in a thrilling game at the John Smith’s Stadium.
Gareth O’Brien put in a stunning display, scoring 22 points as the Red Devils’ fluid attack cut through the Giant’s defence.
They will certainly provide a threat to the Rhinos, and will take plenty of confidence after watching the way Leigh Centurions opened up Leeds in the early stages of their game last week.
Unfortunately for Salford, they will be without the influential winger Justin Carney, after he picked up a two-game suspension following a Grade C contact with a match official in the win over Huddersfield.
Carney had pleaded not guilty to the offence but was handed the ban and a £300 fine for the incident.
New signing Todd Carney also misses out after only completing his move to the club on Wednesday following a delay with his visa application.
In terms of recent meetings between the two, Leeds do have the upper hand with the Rhinos having only lost once to Salford at home in the summer era, a 30-20 defeat in April 2009.
Both meetings at Headingley last season saw the Rhinos come out on top, with the first of those seeing the home side win 8-0 in a tightly contested affair back in June.
The second meeting was far more comfortable for Leeds, who ran out convincing 30-8 winners in the Super 8 Qualifiers.
With the Rhinos still not firing on all cylinders and Salford impressing last week, Friday’s clash could be a close one as both sides battle to it out to make it back-to-back wins in the Super League.
Leeds Rhinos Squad: Golding, Briscoe, Watkins, Moon, Hall, McGuire, Burrow, Parcell, Cuthbertson, Jones-Buchanan, Ablett, Ward, Sutcliffe, Singleton, Garbutt, Keinhorst, Mullally, Walters, Ormondroyd.
Salford Red Devils Squad: Walne, Kopczak, O’Brien, G Griffin, Johnson, Bibby, Jones, Wood, Sa’u, Welham, Brining, Tasi, Mossop, Tomkins, Flanagan, Dobson, Krasniqi, Lui, Lannon.
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