MCCLENNAN TO GIVE SQUAD CHANCE TO IMPRESS
Leeds Rhinos will use their full travelling squad in Saturday’s Australia Day Challenge showdown with South Sydney Rabbitohs in Jacksonville, Florida.
Leeds Rhinos will use their full travelling squad in Saturday’s Australia Day Challenge showdown with South Sydney Rabbitohs in Jacksonville, Florida. Coach Brian McClennan today confirmed that all 24 players on the club’s pre-season training camp will get a run-out this weekend. The game will come at the end of the 11-day camp and exactly a week before Rhinos face Hull KR at Headingley Carnegie in the opening game of engage Super League XIII. "There’s a few things we want to get out of the game," McClennan told the Yorkshire Evening Post. "It will be good for the players to experience how an NRL side play. "That will be invaluable for us, particularly in the ruck area. "The other thing is that we all love our game and it’s a chance to work with Souths in promoting our wonderful game to the American market. "That means a lot to us because everyone here has benefited from the game, in that we are paid well to be a part of it. "To have an opportunity to promote it is something we are all very proud to do." Prop Ryan Bailey was left at home due to a groin injury, but McClennan confirmed that the rest of the squad is fully fit. "We’ve had no problems, everybody’s fine," said the coach. "Our coaching and medical staff always keep an eye on the players and the players are very aware of what they need to do. They are happy, they are healthy." Rhinos are now more than half way through their camp and McClennan is delighted with the way things are progressing. "It’s been going really well," he said. "Training on a dry pitch is great. "We’ve been spending a bit of time together. Team harmony was always good and it still is. "We’re where we want to be in our preparation for Hull KR. "We’ve been able to spend a bit of time working on our structures and systems and by the time we come into next week, when we arrive home, we will be ready to play." Jacksonville has been shivering in some unusually cold weather, but McClennan insisted that is not a problem. He said: "it is better now than what we’ve been having so we appreciate that we can train on a dry pitchand on a field that’s firm. "We haven’t been able to do that at home. You have also got more time to do things. "You can break your session up on the field and have time to stop and discuss things when you need to, whereas when you’re in the cold at home and it’s muddy, you want to keep things moving." McClennan said the Rhinos squad have been delighted with the American hospitality this week – particularly from the University of North Florida, where they are training and where Saturday’s Australia Day Challenge match will be played. Souths have brought 34 players to their training camp, but their New Zealand internationals – including Roy Asotasi and David Kidwell – have only just begun training and may not be risked on Saturday. Organisers are hoping for a capacity crowd of around 10,000 – including Oscar-winning actor Russell Crowe, who is co-owner of Souths.