Pre-season friendlies today as Super League title contenders in action

With the Super League season only four days away, most pre-season friendlies have been and gone but there are two today with two teams taking on very different approaches to their last friendly before the new season.

Ian Watson’s Huddersfield Giants are using the fixture to play their strongest available line up for the first time in 2023 whilst Leeds Rhinos have named a mixture of academy and reserve players for their traditional clash away at Hunslet.

It perhaps makes sense for the Giants to make this decision as they take on Dewsbury Rams this afternoon as their Round One fixture against Champions St Helens has been postponed due to their participation in the World Club Challenge.

Thus, they have longer to their first game which sees them take on Warrington Wolves.

Therefore it makes sense for them to name their strongest possible line up in preparation for the game.

Nathan Peats, Kevin Naiqama and Esan Marsters are all included after signing in the off-season.

For Naiqama and Marsters it is a chance for them to debut and for Peats its his second debut at the club after a loan spell with the Giants in 2021.

Jake Connor again misses out as he recovers from injury.

Here is the squad named by Watson for Sunday:

ASHTON GOLDING – Mathewson & Rosemond
CHRIS MCQUEEN – David Burdsey
CHRIS HILL – Pa-Pi Pasta & Pinsa
ESAN MARSTERS – MB Electrical Contractors
HARVEY LIVETT – Smile Bar & Venue
INNES SENIOR – Grappolo Restaurant
JACK BIBBY – Peter Shelton
JAKE BIBBY – Alcedo Care
JOE GREENWOOD – Steve, Denise & Steph Carter
JOSH JONES – BCL Consultancy Ltd
KEVIN NAIQAMA – Matsuura Machinery
KIERAN RUSH – Matsuura Machinery
LEROY CUDJOE – The Legends Club
LUKE YATES – Matsuura Machinery
MATTY ENGLISH – Paul Tunnacliffe & Helen Whiteley
OLLY WILSON – Team Roche
OWEN TROUT – Chris & Tracy Taylor
SAM HEWITT – Richard & Lisa Jackson
SEB IKAHIHIFO – David Burdsey
THEO FAGES – Signature Resin Floors
TUI LOLOHEA – Martin Thornton Estate Agents
WILL PRYCE – The FM Company

As for Leeds, Academy head coach Tony Smith has named a young Rhinos outfit to take on Hunslet in this Sunday’s Harry Jepson OBE Memorial Trophy clash at South Leeds Stadium, kick off 3pm.

The fixture has recently been a good opportunity for the club’s upcoming talent to test themselves against a Betfred League One side, before the start of the Reserves and Under-18s seasons later this month. It will also be Smith’s first opportunity to see his players out on the field since he joined the club in November 2022.

Ten players available for Sunday were involved in last year’s Academy Grand Final success. Riley Lumb, Bailey Aldridge and Kai Morgan all had great seasons under Chev Walker and have been rewarded already in 2023 by being involved in Rohan Smith’s pre-season teams. Neil Tchamambe will hope to continue his scoring record from 2022 after he finished as the Academy’s joint top try scorer.

Forwards Tom Nicholson-Watton, Oli Field and Joe Gibbons have also played minutes during pre-season games against Bradford and Leigh and are the three most senior players in the lineup.

Here are the fixture details

Huddersfield Giants vs Dewsbury Rams – 3pm John Smiths Stadium

Hunslet vs Leeds Rhinos – 3pm South Leeds Stadium

It is the last chance to see many people’s dark horses for the new season Huddersfield before the big kick off as well as last year’s Grand Finalists Leeds.

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