Match Preview – Huddersfield vs Leeds

We look at what is being said ahead of Sunday’s Betfred Super League clash between Huddersfield Giants and Leeds Rhinos at John Smith’s Stadium…

Watson: Giants will be fine when we click

Huddersfield enter Round 5 of the Super League season still searching for their first win in the competition under head coach Ian Watson.

The Giants’ only win so far in the 2021 season has come against promoted Leigh Centurions in the Challenge Cup third round, with slow starts proving costly for them in their league matches.

But, speaking to Sky Sports rugby league presenter Brian Carney on The Coaching Manual earlier this week, Watson underlined how he is in no doubt results will soon start to come for the side if they trust the systems put in place.

“You only truly know what your players can do in and what your team will do in an actual game situation,” Watson told Sky Sports.

“While you can simulate it in training and get a good feel for it, you don’t really know until you’re actually on the field.

“Four games in, it’s really early. It’s a long season and I know if we get the processes right and keep sticking to them, you’ll learn on the run and learn in games.

“I know through what systems there have been and how we’ve improved them before, once we get it and it clicks, we’ll be fine. It’s just sticking to the processes and having a belief in that system.”

Watson welcomes back two players to his squad for the visit of Leeds who were unable to feature in last week’s 18-10 loss to St Helens.

Ricky Leutele is set for his home debut after recovering from a broken hand suffered in the first game of the season, while Joe Greenwood has completed his three-match suspension.

Rhinos aiming to rebound

Leeds make the relatively short trip to Huddersfield aiming to arrest their own bad run of form, which has seen them lose all four matches in Super League and the Cup since opening the season with a win over Wakefield Trinity.

Richard Agar’s side have not been helped by injuries to several key players, but they do have Liam Sutcliffe available again this week. However, that is tempered by Richie Myler starting a two-match ban.

A 26-6 defeat to Hull Kingston Rovers last week provided something of a jolt for the Rhinos and head coach Agar is pleased with how his side have responded in the build-up to this match.

“There’s been a different vibe to us this week,” Agar said. “Overall, it was a tough review and we have to hold each other accountable because there was ordinary stuff in there. Our players copped it on the chin and they’re re-energised this week.”

Sutcliffe’s return means he is likely to start in the halves alongside Kyle Eastmond, who is continuing to make progress on his return to rugby league.

Eastmond feels he is starting to get back up to speed with the 13-man code after nearly a decade playing rugby union and is optimistic the team can turn things around on Sunday too.

“It’s been a tough couple of results, but every game something else gets a little bit better for me and something comes back,” Eastmond told Rhinos TV. “Hopefully I can keep building and put together some decent performances.

“We’ve got to concentrate on ourselves, show Huddersfield the respect they deserve, and go down there and get a win.”

Named squads

Huddersfield Giants: Jermaine McGillvary, Ricky Leutele, Darnell McIntosh, Lee Gaskell, Aidan Sezer, Luke Yates, Adam O’Brien, Michael Lawrence, Kenny Edwards, Josh Jones, Matty English, Joe Greenwood, Jack Cogger, Chris McQueen, Jack Ashworth, James Cunningham, Oliver Wilson, Leroy Cudjoe, James Gavet, Oliver Russell, Sam Wood.

Leeds Rhinos: Tom Briscoe, Konrad Hurrell, Ash Handley, Mikolaj Oledzki, Kruise Leeming, Matt Prior, Alex Mellor, Rhyse Martin, Brad Dwyer, Liam Sutcliffe, King Vuniyayawa, Bodene Thompson, Alex Sutcliffe, Sam Walters, Luke Briscoe, James Donaldson, Jarrod O’Connor, Jack Broadbent, Corey Hall, Morgan Gannon, Kyle Eastmond.

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