Rugby League legend Garry Schofield has issued a stark warning to the Bradford fans expecting a win at Headingley on Thursday – prepare to be disappointed.
The former Great Britain captain is also dismissive of suggestions that the Rhinos have had their day after a faltering start to their title defence and has little time for claims that the balance of power is swinging in Bradford’s favour.
“You should never write Leeds off, it’s as simple as that,” said Schofield. “They’ve not been at their best this year but there’s a long way to go yet.
“As any coach will point out, the business end of the season is August and September, not February or March, and I have no doubts that Leeds will come good.
“Bradford may have won a few more games than the Rhinos so far this season but we all know that form is temporary and class is permanent.
“For all the problems they’ve had in the last few weeks, Leeds are still the biggest team, not just in Yorkshire but in Rugby League.
“They’re also a team which produces its best in the big matches and there is no bigger match than Leeds versus Bradford. I don’t care what Wigan and Saints fans say or what Hull and Rovers fans believe, this is the biggest derby in Super League.
“Leeds will be up for this one and if I was a Bradford fan I’d be worried.”
Schofield has been quietly impressed by the quality of Bradford’s recruitment drive since the end of last season and believes the Bulls are now than they have been in recent years.
However a man who made a record 46 appearances for Great Britain still feels Bradford have some way to go before they can match the depth of their arch-rivals, who went into last Friday’s match at Wigan without a host of senior players.
“Leeds have been struggling for numbers and it’s hard for any team to compete when you have so many quality players missing,” said Schofield.
“The silver lining to their injury cloud is that the youngsters are gaining valuable first team experience and they’ll benefit from it, both in the short- and long term.
“For some of them this will be their first taste of a Leeds-Bradford derby and they’re going to love it. They know that Bradford will come with high expectations and I think they’ll rise to the challenge.
“Bradford have brought some good players in and are trying to change their style of play but they rely too much on Matt Orford.
“He’s the danger man for the Bulls but if gets injured or loses his form they’re going to struggle. To win a Leeds-Bradford derby takes more than the talents of one player.”