Watch Super League’s restart live on Sky Sports this Sunday. St Helens face Catalans Dragons at 4.15pm, followed by Leeds Rhinos taking on Huddersfield Giants at 6.30pm
By Marc Bazeley
Last Updated: 01/08/20 4:59pm
Super League returns to action on Sunday after 20 weeks and the second match of the day sees Leeds Rhinos taking on Huddersfield Giants.
Despite the match being played at Headingley, the Rhinos are officially the away team for this encounter and will not have their usual raucous support behind them due to all matches being played behind closed doors for the foreseeable future.
Huddersfield, meanwhile, will be aiming to pick up where they left off in Super League after a strong start to the season and we take a look at some of the talking points ahead of the match…
Huddersfield Giants vs Leeds Rhinos
August 2, 2020, 6:30pm
State of play
Super League position: 3rd.
Season so far: P5 W4 D0 L1.
Key stats: Huddersfield have been one of the beneficiaries of Toronto Wolfpack’s record being expunged following their withdrawal. The Giants moved up to third as a result of Leeds and Warrington Wolves having their wins over the Canadians scratched off.
Hooker Adam O’Brien was among those at the forefront for Huddersfield prior to lockdown, scoring three tries in his previous four matches.
Super League position: 4th.
Season so far: P4 W3 D0 L1.
Key stats: The Rhinos won both of their matches against the Giants last season, including a 44-0 win over their Yorkshire rivals at the John Smith’s Stadium in August.
Ash Handley has scored four tries in five games for Leeds so far this season, while Rhyse Martin showed his goal-kicking prowess by landing all 11 conversion attempts in the now-expunged 66-12 win over Toronto.
Head-to-head Super League record: Huddersfield Giants W11 Leeds Rhinos W32 D3.
A case for the defence
Given he made his playing career as a hooker with Canberra Raiders and St George Illawarra Dragons, it might be fair to assume Simon Woolford would be in favour of the new ‘six again’ rule in Super League.
However, the Huddersfield Giants head coach is more concerned with the impact it will have on the defence and how his forwards in the middle of the park will cope rather than how anyone in the No. 9 role might benefit.
Australian Woolford has paid close attention to the effect the ‘six again’ rule has had in the NRL since it resumed following and is prepared to face a big defensive test if his side get any set restarts against them when they face Leeds on Sunday.
“My concern is the load defensively,” Woolford said. “I look after our D and it’s obviously going to be a bit of a shock to the system for our middles in particular – I think it’s going to affect them more than anyone.
“In Australia, there were some hookers they thought would flourish under the new rule who haven’t quite and there are some others who’ve played really well.
“The main thing from my point of view is we handle the defensive side of the new rule.”
Leeds have ‘love for each other’
After suffering a chastening defeat to Hull FC in their first match of the 2020 season, Leeds embarked on an unbeaten run which saw them establish themselves as one of the early form teams prior to the season being suspended.
Kruise Leeming, who is due to make his belated Rhinos debut on Sunday after being ruled out of the first part of the campaign due to a knee injury, was not surprised to see his team-mates putting together a string of good performances.
Indeed, the former Huddersfield hooker feels like he has been part of the squad for longer than a few months due to the work done early in pre-season training which he believes has created a bond in the group.
“We started off by doing a lot of workshops about being honest with each other and there were some pretty in-depth conversations we had with each other and we got really close,” Leeming told Sky Sports.
“It felt like I’d been with the team for years and it was a really strange experience to sit around a table with some boys really emotional, some boys crying and telling our life stories about what happened.
“It’s the first time I’ve been with a team which has done something like that in-depth and from then on I thought ‘we can do something with each other, we’ve got a love for each other’.
“When the season kicked off, it didn’t surprise us we started that way, but now it’s keeping it going.”
What they say about each other
“[Konrad Hurrell] is such a devastating ball-runner and, at the end of the day, we can do all the homework we want on him but we’ve just got to aim up. He’s certainly a handful, and if you give him any time or space…he’s certainly hard to stop.
“I’ve told Kruise [Leeming] a number of times he can play for England, he’s a talented kid. I think the other hooker they’ve got there, [Brad] Dwyer, is just as important to that time. He’s a dangerous character, he picks the ball up a lot and he likes to jump out of dummy-half. He’s one hooker who may been even better under the new rules.”
– Huddersfield Giants head coach Simon Woolford on Leeds Rhinos
“They started pre-season three or four weeks before anyone else and I think they really reaped the benefits of that. When I watched them in the trial game, I thought they looked fit and strong. There were little indicators in the kick chase, their willingness to get in tackles and their desire on line speed.
“They ground out some really close, tight results and I thought they started in good form. Will the break help or hinder them? It depends how they’ve looked after themselves in the break and the challenges they’ve had to face around that sort of thing, which is the same for every club.”
– Leeds Rhinos head coach Richard Agar on Huddersfield Giants