Rhinos ready to face Bulldogs

Leeds Rhinos boss Tony Smith is confident his team will be ready to face Australian champions Canterbury Bulldogs in next month's Carnegie World Club Challenge ? despite just one full scale warm-up game.

Smith told the League Correspondent that the London game will be a vital part of Rhinos' preparations for the Canterbury clash.

"We are very grateful London have come on board with it," he said. "At one stage it did not look like we would be playing a Super League side in preparation for Canterbury.

"It is pretty important we do that, so when we had the opportunity to play them we jumped at it. It will really help us out and I am grateful to their coach Tony Rea for that, especially as they have had to move another game around. "They had some arrangement with Whitehaven, which has been put back a day in order to fit in with us.

"It will be an important part of our preparation for Canterbury, but at the same time we are looking forward to the challenge of playing London.

"They are going to be a much-improved team this year. They have recruited exceptionally well and it will be a big test for us." Smith added: "I think one game against Super League opposition is enough.

"Most of the players will have had some run outs by then, though some may only have had one. It probably won't be our strongest team against Oldham.

"There will be quite a number of first team players involved in that one, but I would expect a far stronger team to be on the field against London and some may play in both.

"When it comes to the Canterbury game, we will be as best prepared as we can be for the time of year. We are going to get into the best shape we can and we will give it our best shot. "On Boxing Day they were able to click into gear pretty quickly and they will need to do that against Canterbury if we are going to be world champions.

"The ideal thing would be to play Canterbury 10 games into the season, but that isn't going to happen ? and it is the same for Canterbury. It is the start of their season as well."

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