TRANS-TASMAN PREVIEWS | We've got a look over and made our picks for the opening night of the rep ro...
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Leeds and Salford announce squads
Leeds look to bounce back from their 32-24 defeat by the Broncos in Perpignan when they take on Salford at Headingley on Friday.
The Rhinos lost for only the third time this year but coach Tony Smith is expecting his side to respond.
?We were obviously disappointed with our result and some aspects of our performance,? said Smith. ?At times in the game we were back to our usual standards but we let ourselves down at times.
?There were a number of things thrown at us that we did not overcome and we will need to learn how to do that in the future.?
Leeds v Salford, Friday July 15, Headingley
Leeds 18-man: Mathers, Calderwood, Walker, Senior, Bai, McGuire, Burrow, Bailey, Diskin, McDermott, Lauitiiti, McKenna, Dunemann, Poching, Jones-Buchanan, Ellis, Scruton, Cummins.
Salford 18-man: Beverley, Hodgson, Littler, Smith, Robinson, Shipway, Alker, Rutgerson, Fitzpatrick, Baldwin, Coley, Sibbit, Charles, Haggerty, Jonkers, Hartley, Highton, McAvoy.
Referee: K Kirkpatrick
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Millward under no illusions
It is less than three weeks since the Warriors, depleted by injuries and low on confidence, suffered a 75-0 loss at the hands of their arch rivals in the quarter-finals of the Challenge Cup, a landmark result Saints are still celebrating with bumper sales of T-shirts specially emblazoned with the record scoreline.
That victory was part of an eight-match unbeaten run since Daniel Anderson?s appointment as coach.
Saints moved to within a point of Leeds after the champions? surprise defeat by London Broncos last weekend and Millward is tipping his old club to go through the rest of the season undefeated.
?They will definitely finish top of the league,? he said. ?Leeds will drop another game, St Helens won?t.
?Don?t get me wrong, we are going there to try to win but it?s a big ask, especially not knowing what the team is going to be.
?And, from 75-0, it?s going to have to be an unbelievable performance to turn it around.?
Millward was forced to cancel training on Tuesday because so many players were injured but, with the exception of prop Jerry Seu Seu, he is expected to field the team that came from behind to beat Warrington last Saturday and he is confident they will be in better shape to withstand another Saints battering.
Wigan?s 13-try beating at Knowsley Road broke a record 70-0 defeat established just a week earlier at Leeds.
But Millward?s men have restored pride - and staved off the distant threat of relegation - with back-to-back wins over Leigh and Warrington that have breathed new life into the Warriors? flagging play-off hopes.
?We were out-muscled and out-skilled in every department at Leeds so it was very hard for the same players to turn it around in a week,? he explained.
?It gave me a chance to look at my players. I tried to stick with everyone after the Leeds game but we changed things after St Helens and the boys have played really well in the last two games. We?ve got back to where we were before the Leeds game and we?re now in position I want us to be to take the next step forward.?
St Helens, who maintained their unbeaten run against Hull last Friday despite being without seven regulars because of injury, expect to have skipper Paul Sculthorpe back but Anderson is not getting carried away by recent results.
?I think what happened a couple of weeks ago is irrelevant,? he said. ?It?s a different game, different players.?
And the former New Zealand Test coach insists he is not looking to overhaul the Rhinos from top spot.
?It?s not that big a deal,? he said. ?It would be nice but the destiny is not in our hands.
?We have a lot of tough games to go. Our motivation is not to finish number one, it?s just to win each week. Leeds are a very strong team and I wouldn?t expect to see them slip up too much.?
Wigan?s Brian Carney is still sidelined with a hamstring injury for the repeat of last month?s Powergen Challenge Cup quarter-final against St Helens.
The engage Super League match has come a week too early for captain Kris Radlinski, who is still recovering from a hamstring injury.
?Radlinski will play against Wakefield next week and I?m pretty confident Kevin Brown will too,? said Wigan coach Ian Millward, who was forced to cancel training on Tuesday because of injuries.
St Helens, who beat Hull last Friday without seven regulars, could have at least three of them back.
Half-backs Sean Long (hand) and Jason Hooper (shoulder), along with hooker Mick Higham (foot), are still sidelined and back-row forward Vinnie Anderson (groin) is out.
But young prop James Graham is back in the squad after recovering from a hip injury and skipper Paul Sculthorpe is expected to return from a leg injury and, like second rower Lee Gilmour (calf), will undergo a late fitness test.
Coach Daniel Anderson said: ?Paul has looked okay so far but he?ll need a fitness test later in the week.?
St Helens 18-man squad: Wellens, Albert, Lyon, Talau, Gardner, Wilkin, Moore, Fozzard, Cunningham, P. Anderson, Gilmour, Bennett, Sculthorpe, Graham, Fa?asavalu, Edmondson, Roby, Hardman.
Wigan 18-man squad: Aspinwall, Vaealiki, Dallas, Orr, Moran, Hargreaves, Godwin, Wild, Hansen, Botham, Allen, Newton, Sculthorpe, Tickle, Guisset, Melling, Colbon, Tomkins.
Many thanks to http://www.superleague.co.uk/ for the above previews