ESL Preview - Round 7 -Bradford
Bulls V Leeds Rhinos

Leeds star Danny McGuire will not make his return from injury in Thursday?s engage Super League clash with rivals Bradford.

The 22-year-old half-back has been out for four weeks after undergoing a groin operation but had been considered for a possible return in the Odsal clash.

McGuire was included Tony Smith?s initial 20-man squad but the Rhinos coach has now decided not to risk his prize asset before Monday?s encounter with Wakefield.

Smith said: ?Danny McGuire is not ready yet to make his return so he will not be in the team for Thursday.

?However he is not far off being back available and could feature against Wakefield on Monday at Headingley.?

Forward Jamie-Jones Buchanan, who this week agreed a new contract with the club, is also ruled out with a knee injury but Gareth Ellis and Chris McKenna are both fit to return.

The Rhinos have begun the defence of their Super League crown in fine style with six straight wins but they will face a Bulls team now beginning to find their feet in 2005.

Brian Noble?s side were beaten in their first two matches but have since responded with four successive victories, including a 32-22 success over in-form Hull last Friday.

Smith added: ?Their quality speaks for itself when you look at their results in recent weeks.

?They had a poor start to the season by their standards but they have hit back in style since then.

?Brian Noble did not panic after those early losses and stuck by his team and they are seeing the benefits of that now.

?Both teams are going into the game full of confidence and the amount of talent on show means that it should produce a great game.?

The match provides a potentially explosive start to the Easter programme and is also a re-match of last October?s Grand Final.

Leeds ran out winners at Old Trafford, as they did in three of the sides? other four meetings last year.

It represented a marked reversal of fortunes after the Bulls whitewashed their West Yorkshire rivals in 2003 but Noble insists revenge is not his side?s prime motivation this week.

The Great Britain coach said: ?It is the first game between the sides since the Grand Final but I won?t be putting any revenge issues into my game plan.

?It?s a different season with different players and our focus is to win the game and continue improving as we have done this season.

?I thought we played very well against Hull last week but we know this game will provide an even tougher test.

?There will a lot of noise generated by the supporters of both sides and this game, more than any other is the one the fans want to win. We will have to try and turn the home advantage we have into a positive for us.

?They are playing really well and come here as favourites. They have had a great start to the season and are unbeaten. They are certainly playing with a lot of confidence and will be very tough opponents.?

The Bulls are still without full-back Michael Withers with a knee injury and have now learnt that three-quarter Paul Johnson faces a further five weeks out with a shoulder problem.

Teenagers Brett Ferres ? who was on the bench against Hull ? and Matthew Cook, a former England rugby union international, are again included in Noble?s squad.

Bradford Bulls v Leeds Rhinos, Odsal Stadium, Thursday March 24 2005

Bradford 18-man: Ferres, Deacon, Fielden, Harris, Langley, Lynch, Meyers, Parker, Paul, Peacock, Pratt, K. Pryce, L. Pryce, Radford, Reardon, Vagana, Vainikolo, Cook.

Leeds 18-man: Mathers, Calderwood, Walker, Senior, Bai, Burrow, Bailey, McDermott, Lauitiiti, McKenna, Sinfield, Dunemann, Ward, Poching, McDonald, Ellis, Botham, Scruton

Thanks to: http://www.superleague.co.uk for another excellent article.

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