First teamers on show Leeds on Boxing Day

Super League Champions Leeds Rhinos will field their strongest team for many years on Boxing Day in the Cravendale Festive Challenge with seven players from the side who won the Grand Final in October in the line up to face Wakefield, kick off 11.30am.

Grand Finalists Rob Burrow and Brent Webb will form an exciting half back partnership whilst Scott Donald is included on the wing. In the forwards, Kylie Leuluai and Luke Burgess will pack down either side of hooker Paul McShane.

Carl Ablett will be alongside Jay Pitts in the second row. Pitts joined the Rhinos mid-season from Wakefield having played in the corresponding fixture in the past two seasons as part of the victorious Wildcats teams. This will be the first time he has come up against his former club.

Ryan Bailey will have a fitness test on Christmas Eve to see whether he will be declared fit or not following a slight back injury in training.

New signing Brett Delaney has been ruled out of the game to make sure that he is fully fit for the start of the season likewise Jamie Jones-Buchanan, Danny Buderus and Matt Diskin.

Leeds fans will get to see new recruits Michael Coady and Kyle Amor for the first time. Coady, who signed from Doncaster last season, will line up in the centres alongside Kallum Watkins whilst Amor is on the bench.

Three players who will spend next season on loan away from the Rhinos are also included in the side in Dane Manning (Featherstone), Ben Jones-Bishop (Harlequins RL) and Simon Worrall (Toulouse).

Commenting on the side Head Coach Brian McClennan said, “It is disappointing that Brett Delaney will not get to play but unfortunately time has beaten us in terms of his rehabilitation from injury. He is back in full training now but he is a couple of weeks behind the other guys and we do not want to risk anyone with a tough season ahead. Likewise, Danny Buderus and Matt Diskin are making good progress and will be fit in the New Year but the Boxing Day game is too soon for them.

“I am excited to see Michael Coady and Kyle Amor in action for the Rhinos. Both are talented young players and they have really acquitted themselves well since arriving at the club. The half back pairing of Brent Webb and Rob Burrow is an exciting one also and Jay Pitts will be keen to build on his appearance at the end of last season when he made his debut for the Rhinos.

“Only two of our starting line up have not featured in Super League with Coady and young winger Tom Bush the only exceptions. With Super League starting a month after the game, this match will form a key part of our preparation. Having seen Wakefield’s side, it is obvious that both teams are taking this game seriously. We will only be fielding 18 players on the day so it will be as close to Super League game as we have had on Boxing Day for many years and we are looking forward to the challenge,” added McClennan.

Fans who purchase before midnight on Christmas Day can take advantage of the reduced admission for juniors which is available from £5 before the deadline but will go up to £12 on the day of the game. To book tickets for Boxing Day fans can call 0871 423 1315 or book online 24 hours a day by going to www.therhinos.co.uk/buytickets. Supporters have also been reminded that there will be a minutes silence before kick off to remember those supporters and former players who have passed away in the last year. This include Leeds legend John Holmes and Wakefield and Leeds Academy players respectively, Leon Walker and Andrew Curwell, who tragically passed away this year.

The team in full is:
1. Ben Jones-Bishop
2. Scott Donald
3. Michael Coady
4. Kallum Watkins
5. Tom Bush
6. Brent Webb
7. Rob Burrow
8. Kylie Leuluai
9. Paul McShane
10. Luke Burgess
11. Carl Ablett
12. Jay Pitts
13. Simon Worrall
14. Kyle Amor
15. Dane Manning
16. Luke Ambler
17. Liam Hood
18. Ryan Bailey
19. Danny Bravo
20. Chris Clarkson

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