Domestic rugby league is just days away with the pre-season friendlies set to start on Boxing Day and one of those features Leeds Rhinos hosting Wakefield Trinity.
It will be the first opportunity that head coach Rohan Smith gets to experience the traditional Boxing Day game having taken over early on in the season, but the coach is keen for fans to see his crop of players.
“I’m excited by it, from what I understand fans look forward to it. Everyone’s off work and together with their family so what better way to enjoy some time away from work and with your family than coming and watching some players rip in to entertain us,” Smith said at his press conference on Monday.
“I’m looking forward to reacquainting with the fans and introducing a few new players and some young players from our academy. I’m really excited by those guys getting some opportunities as well and building a squad for the year ahead and seasons ahead.
“This game is about giving people exposure to a higher level than they’ve been to before so I look forward to that.”
Head coach Rohan Smith says he is looking forward to seeing the fans at Headingley and introducing some new players on Boxing Day at the @wetherbywhaler Festive Challenge.
— Leeds Rhinos (@leedsrhinos) December 20, 2022
Smith took over when Leeds were languishing near the bottom of the table but transformed Rhinos into a playoff side, ultimately finishing fifth and making it al the way to the Grand Final.
It wasn’t to be in his first season with Leeds going down to St Helens in that match but the progress made has been undeniable and with new additions to the squad Rhinos will look set to challenge again.
Nene Macdonald will be reunited with Smith following their time in Australia but he’ll likely be watching from the sidelines as the star signing who top scored in the Championship last season is out injured.
Other signings that Leeds have made and will feature on Boxing Day include Derrell Olpherts, James McDonnell, Justin Sangare and Leon Ruan whilst there are welcome returns from injury for Tom Holroyd, Max Simpson and Morgan Gannon.
“We want to get a lot out of it, I want to see how players can transfer what we’ve been working on from a rugby league point of view as well as a physical point of view.
“I want to see people playing together and representing our club, getting the season started essentially and the ball rolling for what’s ahead in the rest of the pre-season. I think it will be a positive day for us.”
The game is also set to be streamed worldwide so fans who can’t attend will be able to watch for a price of £10 or £4.95 if ordered before game-day with Rhinos pairing with Our League for a second year running to provide coverage and providing the below information on the stream.
“The game will be available to fans at a cost of £4.95 if booked before midnight on Christmas Day, please be aware the price will rise to £10 on the day of the game, so fans are encouraged to purchase in advance of game day. In order to purchase the game, you need to be logged into your Our League account on the rugby-league.com website. You cannot purchase within the app. The full game replay will be available to anyone who has pre-ordered the game and fans who do not purchase before the game can also pay to watch the full match again after the final hooter for £4.95.”