Cross bow is expected as Leeds face up to Wakefield

Leeds's new signing Ben Cross will make his bow when Rhinos look to beat the freeze with their traditional Boxing Day fixture against Wakefield Wildcats.

The prop, a former Grand Final winner with Melbourne Storm, has swapped the sunshine of Australia and life with Newcastle Knights in the NRL for a two-year deal at Headingley Carnegie.

As culture shocks go, arriving from an Australian summer to frozen pitches and blizzards takes some beating.

Super League may now be a summer sport but the Boxing Day Festive Charity Trophy fixture remains and 31-year-old Cross will be plunged into his Leeds debut, along with fellow additions Weller Hauraki and Zak Hardaker.

The Headingley pitch has been covered this week to try to beat the big freeze, with new head coach Brian McDermott naming a strong squad as he gets the first glimpse of his new charges.

McDermott said: "The guys are looking forward to getting out there and getting a game under their belts.

"The majority of the squad had a decent break at the end of last year, for the first time in a number of seasons, and there has been a great spirit within the group during pre-season.

"The new players have fitted in really well and we know that people come on Boxing Day looking to enjoy their morning at the

rugby so it is nice to be able to

select a side entirely from the first-team squad."

There are welcome returns for Luke Burgess (broken jaw) and Kallum Watkins (knee) after they missed large chunks of last season but injured Danny McGuire and Chris Clarkson miss out.

Rhinos' Young Player of the Year Clarkson is out for six weeks with a fractured thumb.

McDermott said: "It is disappointing for Chris as he was training well in pre-season. However, if there is ever a good time to suffer an injury like this it is now and we are confident Chris will be back for the start of the season."

Young full-back Ben Jones-Bishop will make his first appearance for the Rhinos since the corresponding fixture last year when he scored a try in the win over Wakefield before going on loan to Harlequins RL for the 2010 season.

Cross is keen to get his Rhinos career underway after flying to England last week.

"I have always wanted to play in the Super League competition. Having won a Premiership in the NRL, I would love to win titles on both sides of the globe. I know the team missed out last year and they are filthy about that and if I can help them put some silverware in the cabinet, then I will be happy."

Wakefield will include seven of the club's new signings. Kevin Penny will start on the wing while Tommy Lee, Paul Johnson and Stuart Howarth also make their bows. Josh Veivers, Chris Dean and Motu Tony are named as substitutes.

Wakefield also have friendlies with Dewsbury Rams (January 16) and Huddersfield Giants (January 23).

Bradford Bulls kick off their pre-season campaign with a Boxing Day trip to Castleford Tigers before Halifax visit the Grattan Stadium for Jamie Langley's testimonial game on Sunday, January 9.

The Bulls will spend a week warm weather training in Lanzarote before their annual trip to New Crown Flatt to play Dewsbury Rams on Sunday, January 23. They conclude their Super League preparations with a trip to Keighley Cougars (Friday, January 28), before Wakefield visit two days later.

The new Super League season kicks off in Cardiff on the weekend of February 12-13.