Leeds second row Weller Hauraki is warning his Rhinos team-mates not to underestimate his former club Crusaders ahead of their televised Carnegie Challenge Cup fourth round tie at Headingley Carnegie Stadium on Saturday (3.15pm).
Crusaders, who currently sit at the bottom of the Engage Super League table having only won three games, suffered a 34-16 defeat against Leeds less than 2 weeks ago but Hauraki expects the Welsh side to come back fighting.
“The Challenge Cup is a totally different competition to Super League,” said the former Crusaders player. “It all depends on how you play in the 80 minutes and Crusaders should not be underestimated because we beat them last time out.
“On Good Friday they beat Huddersfield Giants, who were at the top of the table. I think they took the Giants by surprise, which just shows that any team can win on the day and you can’t be complacent.
“I didn’t get to play in the match against Crusaders last Monday but I think the team can take some confidence from that game. To get the victory last week will be positive for us heading in to the Challenge Cup fourth round tie against Crusaders but we know they will be hoping to avenge their previous defeat.”
The New Zealander spent his first year in the Engage Super League with the Welsh club and has offered his team some insight into their welsh rivals.
“I have given the boys the inside track into the Crusaders team, particularly for the forwards,” said Hauraki. “But it is different from when I played for them as they have a new coach and a few new players. For me, the stand-out players in the Crusaders team are Jason Chan and Rhys Hanbury.”
Leeds Rhinos have recently welcomed back some key players from injury which Hauraki believes will boost them in their future fixtures.
“It is great for the team to have some key players returning from injury,” said Hauraki. “Danny McGuire brings a lot to the team and is very a very skilled stand-off which creates opportunities and gets the team in to a good position.
“Jamie Peacock is a remarkable forward and definitely makes an impact when he is on the field. I think he will bring a lot of confidence to the forwards and give them some great direction.”
Tickets for the Carnegie Challenge Cup fourth round contest between Leeds Rhinos and Crusaders at Headingley Carnegie Stadium costs from £20 for adults, £13 concessions and £12 juniors and can be purchased on 0871 423 1315. Leeds Rhinos season ticket holders can gain free entry.