Leeds are looking to make it four wins on the bounce for the first time this season tomorrow night as they look for a first win at Craven Park since 2018.
The Rhinos have enjoyed a remarkable turn around under Rohan Smith recently winning five of their last six games which has seen them wrestle sixth spot away from the other play-off challengers which does indeed include opponents Hull KR.
Under Leeds Rhinos legend Danny McGuire, the Robins have given hope back to their season which hit rock bottom when they lost to Toulouse away a week before the Magic Weekend. Their play-off dream is very much alive and a win would see them leapfrog Leeds into sixth though defeat would see them three points adrift of the Rhinos.
But just how will this four-pointer go down?
After the win over Salford, Rohan Smith spoke about the importance of finding different ways to win even though his chosen avenue to success is through exciting rugby.
The need for alternative ways to win will again be vital away from home this week for Leeds as they endure another reshuffle with a trio of key players suspended which will again upset the spine.
This will put the focus on playing quick rugby with lots of push up around the ball punching holes in the Hull KR defence and relying less on set plays.
The Rhinos will also need to gain a foothold in the middle to generate the necessary speed they’ll need to guide themselves to victory.
Another key battle ground will be the Rhinos’ right. Just like last week up against Tim Lafai, Harry Newman and co will have their hands full against the likes of Shaun Kenny-Dowall and Ryan Hall. Shutting down these guys quickly as Leeds did with Jai Field and Bevan French against Wigan recently will be key.
Some of the bans created by suspensions will be fairly easy to solve. Liam Tindall will come onto the wing for David Fusitu’a whilst Morgan Gannon will receive a promotion into the backrow from the bench with Muizz Mustapha set to take a bench spot against his former club.
But what to do with the halfback spot Aidan Sezer has left behind? Well is Blake Austin is fit, this is an easy fix and will be a tale of two returning halfbacks with Mikey Lewis set to be back for Hull KR.
However, Rohan Smith will need a plan B. Both Jack Sinfield and Corey Johnson are in the squad and could step up whilst moving Cameron Smith there – who was excellent in the role against Wigan – is also an option but would then see Leeds still have to call upon one of Sinfield and Johnson with Smith only able to name a 19-man squad.
I suppose Smith to seven, Johnson to nine and Jarrod O’Connor to 13 would be a solution but it sounds like far too much movement.
33 Zak Hardaker
29 Liam Tindall
3 Harry Newman
4 Liam Sutcliffe
5 Ash Handley
6 Blake Austin
16 Richie Myler
8 Mikolaj Oledzki
24 Jarrod O’Connor
19 Bodene Thompson
11 James Bentley
21 Morgan Gannon
17 Cameron Smith
13 Zane Tetevano
14 Brad Dwyer
22 Sam Walters
27 Muizz Mustapha
For me, Leeds are favourites for this game with Hull KR still struggling for rhythm with so many players out and the continuing absence of Lachlan Coote is a seismic blow to the Robins’ chances here.
Yes they could have three players back for this one but success would be dependent on them returning at full tilt which is easier said than done.
Ultimately, if Leeds continue to play like they have under Rohan Smith, victory will surely be theirs. But there are still inconsistencies in this Leeds side so there is every chance the Rhinos could fall short.
Hull KR 16-32 Leeds Rhinos