Romania lift curtain as Rhinos help set the benchmark

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Minnows Romania have been looking at the way Leeds Rhinos do things ahead of their Rugby World Cup campaign.

Romania face Yorkshire Carnegie at Headingley today (5.30pm) in a warm-up game being played as a curtain-raiser to the rugby league side’s top of the table visit of Wigan Warriors.

The Oaks’ assistant-coach is Wakefield-born Neil Kelly, who coached Dewsbury, Widnes and Wales in rugby league before switching codes and he has been using clips of Leeds in action to highlight the sort of standards the Romanians need to aspire to.

Romania kick-off their World Cup campaign against France at London’s Olympic Stadium on September 23 and also face Ireland at Wembley, Canada in Leicester and Italy at Exeter.

It is a daunting fixture list for a team who are World Cup ever-presents, but have never progressed beyond the group phase.

“We’ve looked at one or two clips of the Rhinos,” said Kelly. “The players don’t know very much about league in general, not just Leeds Rhinos, but one thing we have been working on is the angles of running and timing and different depths of runs.

“Friday night is going to give us a great chance to see all the things we’ve been talking about in training in action. They are quite keen to watch the game after ours just to benchmark themselves against some of the best players in the world.”

Yorkshire Carnegie coach Brian Redpath has named all eight of his closed-season recruits in his squad and Kelly feels tonight’s match will be good for both sides.

“I can guarantee Carnegie we will give them a really good workout in the forwards. I think Brian will have an idea of how strong or weak his pack is after meeting ours and I think it will be a bit of a challenge in the backs.”

With a big crowd expected for the Super League game (8pm) Romania will also benefit from tasting the Headingley atmosphere, believes Kelly.

“I think it will be a great experience for us and needed. We only play in front of 6-7,000 people and that is a factor we have been concerned about, the players freezing and not performing in front of a big crowd. It will be a good test.”