Leeds coach Brian McDermott may use two players to fill the void created by hooker Danny Buderus’s return to Australia during the Rhinos’ defence of their Super League title in 2012.
Paul McShane, understudy to Buderus in 2011, has been handed his old No 9 jersey and started the Boxing Day challenge match against Wakefield but rival Liam Hood came off the bench to produce an oustanding display.
McDermott admitted the performance of 19-year-old Hood, recently handed a four-year Super League contract, has presented him with a dilemma as he ponders his hooking options.
“I have an idea who it could be but I haven’t nailed it down yet,” he said.
“I often get asked how we replace Danny Buderus and the easy answer is you don’t, so maybe we’ll have two men try to do the job that Bedsy did on his own.
“They have two very different styles. Hood is a darter out of dummy half while McShane has a lot more subtleties. They are both as effective as each other so we’re blessed in that department.”
In their first outing since their Grand Final triumph over St Helens in October, the Rhinos showed some encouraging touches in front of a 9,062 crowd at Headingley.
Acting captain Rob Burrow, centre Zak Hardaker and loose-forward Chris Clarkson were among the try-scorers.
Second-row Weller Hauraki, unlucky to miss out at Old Trafford, made his point with a man-of-the-match performance, while former Wakefield prop Richard Moore also caught the eye.
Wakefield, with 12 new faces, made the more impressive start and took the lead on 14 minutes when former Harlequins hooker Andy Ellis dummied his way over.
Leeds drew level with Clarkson’s try midway through the first half and they seized control with two further tries in the last four minutes of the half through Hood and Kallum Watkins.
The introduction of scrum-half Kyle Wood and ex-Leeds prop Kyle Amor sparked a second-half revival for Trinity, who pulled a try back through impressive Australian centre Dean Collis before Rhinos finished the stronger side.
Bradford’s new signing Manase Manuokafoa will miss the start of the 2012 Super League season after picking up a serious knee injury in training ahead of yesterday’s Boxing Day 28-18 friendly defeat at Castleford.
The former Parramatta prop, signed as a replacement for Andy Lynch, sustained a ruptured cruciate ligament and will be sidelined for up to 10 weeks. In Manuokafoa’s absence, Bradford coach Mick Potter gave a senior baptism to 19-year-old front row Johnny Payne against his home-town club as the Tigers won in coach Ian Millward’s first match in charge.
Warrington scrum-half Richie Myler will miss the start of the new Super League season after dislocating an elbow in a 32-18 Boxing Day win over Widnes.
The former Widnes and Salford half-back left the field in obvious pain 29 minutes into the game at the Halliwell Jones Stadium.