Four of Leeds Rhinos’ off-season recruits are in line to make their first appearances for the club on Boxing Day as they host Wakefield Trinity in the ‘Wetherby Whaler’ friendly at Headingley.
This will be the 20th year that two clubs have met in the festive annual challenge, facing off every year since 2004 except 2020 at the height of the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, it’s Leeds who have the better record in the friendly encounters between the pair, winning 11 of the 19 so far, though it was Wakefield who triumphed this time last year with a 38-20 victory.
Trinity, of course, would go on to endure a campaign which resulted in relegation, and will travel to Headingley as a Championship side under the management of veteran head coach Daryl Powell.
After a disappointing 8th place finish in the season just gone on the back of a Grand Final appearance in 2022, Rohan Smith‘s Rhinos meanwhile have brought in seven new additions in total, with their 21-man squad for the Boxing Day clash made public knowledge earlier today.
Leeds Rhinos name squad for Boxing Day friendly against Wakefield Trinity: Quartet of new signings to make first appearances
NRL recruits Lachlan Miller and Matt Frawley are in the 21, alongside Andy Ackers and Mickael Goudemand, who have made the move to Headingley from Salford Red Devils and Catalans Dragons respectively.
Hooker Ackers – who will turn 30 on Christmas Day – linked up with Leeds alongside team-mate Brodie Croft, the 2022 Super League Man of Steel.
Youngster Kieran Hudson, brought in from Castleford Tigers, is also absent though it remains unclear whether that’s injury-related. The Sunderland-born prop missed last season with an Achilles injury, but was said to be back to full fitness when penning his deal at Headingley.
Other confirmed Rhinos absentees include Mikolaj Oledzki, Cameron Smith, James Bentley and Tom Holroyd. Leeds say ‘they are not risked due to recovering from injury or illness’.
Brothers Ned and Fergus McCormack are included by boss Smith, brought in from rugby union outfit Woodhouse Grove School and local rugby league side Guiseley Rangers respectively.
Leeds Rhinos squad for ‘Wetherby Whaler’ pre-season clash with Wakefield Trinity
Leeds’ 21-man squad for the Boxing Day clash can be found below…
1. Lachlan Miller
2. David Fusitu’a
5. Ash Handley
7. Matt Frawley
9. Andy Ackers
14. Jarrod O’Connor
15. Sam Lisone
16. James McDonnell
17. Justin Sangare
18. Mickael Goudemand
19. Derrell Olpherts
20. Morgan Gannon
21. Jack Sinfield
24. Luis Roberts
26. Corey Johnson
29. Alfie Edgell
30. Tom Nicholson-Watton