HEADINGLEY CARNEGIE INSIGHT

In this weeks edition of Headingley Carnegie Insight Tony Smith looks ahead to the Rhinos opening game of the season at Salford City Reds this Sunday, kick off 3pm.

In this weeks edition of Headingley Carnegie Insight Tony Smith looks ahead to the Rhinos opening game of the season at Salford City Reds this Sunday, kick off 3pm. HOW BIG A CHALLENGE WILL SALFORD BE? It is tough game for us to open up the season and I’m sure Salford will be looking to repeat their great season from last year. They gave us some really tough games last season and we only won the last meeting by a drop goal so that shows the threat they posed last season. They have recruited well in the close season and I am sure like ourselves will want to get their season off to the best possible start. We are looking to build on our last performance when we beat Huddersfield. DO YOU FEEL YOUR SIDE IS READY FOR THE START OF THE SEASON? It has been a long pre-season for some of our players. Guys like Kevin Sinfield, Ali Lauitiiti and Clinton Toopi have been training since November for the start of the season whilst the guys who were involved in the Federation Shield and Tri Nations have had less time. We have only had one full hit out but I think if you look across Super League most teams are doing that now. It is a long season for players who play representative rugby and it is imperative that we do not put any more unnecessary strain on our players and run the risk of injuries in pre-season games. We have come through ok with the exception of Jamie Peacock’s eye injury and the players are keen to get the season underway. HOW IS THE SQUAD SHAPING UP? We have got some great competition for places, especially at this time of the year and those players who are given the first chance on Sunday have the first chance to stake their claim for place in the side. We will have Jamie Peacock coming back for next weeks game against Hull so straight away people know they have to perform which makes for a great competitive environment within the group. Brent Webb has been getting plenty of attention in the build up to the start of the season and we have to be careful that we don’t have too high expectations for him. However, he is a world class player and he will be wanting to hit the ground running on Sunday and he has already shown his quality in training and the Huddersfield game with a try from his first touch.