Leeds have chosen to play Catalans in the play-offs next weekend in today’s historic Clubcall announcement.
Televised live on BBC and Sky Sports News, the Rhinos were given the choice between Wigan and Catalans as part of the new Super League play-off format – a first in sport.
Their decision means that rivals St Helens have to face arch-enemies Wigan at Knowsley Road next weekend, while the Rhinos will play Catalans at Headingley, with the two winners facing each other at Old Trafford in the Grand Final in a fortnight.
Leeds have beaten Saints in the past two Grand Finals, and both are fancied to reach the big game again this season.
Leeds chief executive Gary Hetherington said: “It has been a fascinating process. We had to make all sorts of considerations, things like a teams track record at Headingley, perhaps the crowd potential and commercial success it could bring. You also think about the other final and the Grand Final depending on what decision you make.”
Leeds will play Catalans on Friday night at Headingley, live on Sky Sports.
Catalans general manager Christophe Levy said: “We’ve played the last three weeks away from home so you could imagine we’ll be tired for this week. We were expecting it, because Leeds finished 1st, we finished 8th, and they are the champions. I’m sure our coach will find the words to be motivated for Friday night. We will come to Headingley to win.”
Catalans have been on an excellent run in the play-offs so far, defeating both Wakefield (25-16) and Huddersfield (16-6) away from home, while Wigan boss Brian Noble is no stranger to the Grand Final – having led Bradford to five successive finals earlier in the decade.
Meanwhile, Wigan looked in good form in their 30-16 win over Hull KR last night, having defeated Castleford last weekend, and they will fancy their chances in what will be a typically high-tempered derby game with St Helens.