We look at what is being said and team news ahead of Leeds Rhinos taking on Hull FC at Emerald Headingley in Sunday’s Super League match, live on Sky Sports…
Tetevano makes a welcome return
It has not been unusual for Leeds to be without key players so far this season due to injuries which have ravaged the squad, although one of the biggest misses in recent weeks has been Zane Tetevano.
The New Zealander has been sidelined for the Rhinos’ past four games after being banned for a red card he received for a late hit on Theo Fages in the defeat to St Helens last month, but will return to action when they face Hull FC on Sunday evening.
Leeds Rhinos vs Hull FC
May 23, 2021, 7:00pm
Leeds head coach Richard Agar is delighted to have off-season recruit Tetevano back to add more presence to the pack as the hosts aim to build on last week’s 15-13 win over Wakefield Trinity, as well as the other facets he has to his game.
“I know he’s a middle forward, but he’s a very, very smart rugby player,” Agar said. “He’s got an extremely high rugby league IQ and he knows he got it wrong (against St Helens) – but he didn’t get it that wrong, in my opinion.
“He’s suffered, he’s sat on the sideline for four weeks watching us and struggle without him in the middle of the field, and the load it’s put on put on Matty (Prior) and Mikolaj (Oledzki).
“I can’t tell Zane to go out there and play like a wallflower either – it’s not why we bought him and not his goal. We just need to make sure it doesn’t overflow into discipline issues like he did last time.”
The match is likely to see Rhinos hooker Kruise Leeming notch up his 150th career appearance, while Ash Handley will be aiming to continue the scoring streak which has seen him run in tries in each of their last three meetings with Hull FC.
Confidence still high for Hull FC
Having made a positive start to the 2021 season under new head coach Brett Hodgson, Hull FC came unstuck in their first game in front of fans for over 14 months on Monday when they went down 27-10 at home to Catalans Dragons.
It was not their first loss of Hodgson’s tenure – that was a narrow defeat to Wigan Warriors which was later avenged in the Challenge Cup quarter-finals – but it was a performance which fell below the standards they have set for themselves in the opening rounds of the current Super League campaign.
Nevertheless, forward Chris Satae insists the squad are still feeling in a positive frame of mind about their prospect this season and are constantly striving for improvement no matter what the result.
“We strive for perfection, but the reality is nothing is ever perfect,” Satae said. “Win or lose, there is always improvement.
“Confidence is still high. We probably didn’t play as well as we could have and Catalans are a very good team who’ll punish you when you make mistakes, and that’s what ended up happening.”
For his part, Hodgson has been impressed by the attitude of his squad so far this season and has been particularly pleased with the way even those currently not getting into the starting line-up are pushing their team-mates on.
“That’s what’s great about this year,” Hodgson said. “The players are supporting each other and doing it in a selfless way to make us better as a group.”
As well as Tetevano, Leeds have Richie Myler available again after he completed a two-game suspension. He is recalled to Agar’s 21-man squad along with James Donaldson and Bodene Thompson following their recoveries from injury.
Hodgson had made just one change to his Hull FC squad for the trip to Headingley, bringing in Ben McNamara in place of Miteli Vulikikapani following his move to Championship side Bradford Bulls on loan.
Leeds Rhinos: Tom Briscoe, Konrad Hurrell, Ash Handley, Luke Gale, Mikolaj Oledzki, Kruise Leeming, Matt Prior, Alex Mellor, Rhyse Martin, Zane Tetevano, Brad Dwyer, Liam Sutcliffe, Richie Myler, King Vuniyayawa, Bodene Thompson, Sam Walters, Luke Briscoe, James Donaldson, Jarrod O’Connor, Jack Broadbent, Morgan Gannon.
Hull FC: Jake Connor, Bureta Faraimo, Carlos Tuimavave, Josh Griffin, Mahe Fonua, Josh Reynolds, Marc Sneyd, Danny Houghton, Chris Satae, Andre Savelio, Manu Ma’u, Ligi Sao, Jordan Johnstone, Joe Cator, Jordan Lane, Brad Fash, Ben McNamara, Adam Swift, Connor Wynne, Cameron Scott.
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