McClennan keeps Wolves guessing after Smith opts to play his hand early

WHILE their opponents willingly revealed their cards, Leeds Rhinos head into today's Carnegie Challenge Cup final refusing to budge ahead of the most anticipated Wembley showdown in years.

Coach Brian McClennan opted against naming his side yesterday as the narrow favourites preferred to make Warrington Wolves ponder ahead of the sell-out game which has fans and pundits alike struggling to decide on a winner.

The Wolves, meanwhile, in a clear show of confidence, played it straight with chief Tony Smith revealing his 17-man line-up at the traditional eve-of-final Wembley walkabout, announcing that England scrum-half Richie Myler is axed from their plans.

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Although not a significant shock, given growing speculation throughout the course of the week, the fact holders Warrington can afford to omit such a stellar talent shows the heights Leeds must rise to if they are going to end their 11-year long wait for a triumph in the game's most famous competition.

It has been five years since the Super League champions even reached the showpiece but McClennan, pictured below, having guided them to the first of his reign, remained confident if tight-lipped and was non-plussed by Myler's exclusion.

"We're not really thinking too much about what their make-up will be we're just concentrating on ourselves," insisted the Kiwi.

"We'll name our team an hour before kick-off but we've had all 19 train today in our last run and I'm really confident in any one of those to do a good job and fulfill their role.

"But the 17 that takes the pitch is what we'll think suits this game and the game-plan we have for Warrington. We'll just see how we shape up over-night."

It appears McClennan has told his squad who will make the cut and so there should be no Fabio Capello-style late dramas shortly before Leeds take to the field this afternoon, Scott Donald and Chris Clarkson the likely absentees.

The squad did appear at ease yesterday and McClennan – whose father Mike was a losing coach with St Helens in 1991 – admitted: "We like where we are at the moment.

"We're in a good frame of mind and I thought we looked really sharp in training.

"It's a magnificent stadium and it's nice to be here.

"The players really enjoyed looking around and I can see it in their eyes they're impressed."

It will be a memorable afternoon for Kevin Sinfield. The Yorkshire Post discovered his eldest son five-year-old Jack will be mascot as the long-serving Rhinos captain – defeated in 2003 and 2005 – leads them out and seeks to end that barren run.

Injured Jamie Peacock, sidelined for at least six months due to imminent knee surgery, also attended the walkabout but there will be no surprise inclusion there with McClennan cryptically adding: "That's not the miracle that will happen tomorrow."

Myler, meanwhile, cut an understandably subdued figure on the Wembley turf but Smith insists he has taken the setback well.

The 20-year-old, a high-profile 200,000 buy from Salford last winter, had crossed in earlier Cup victories against Featherstone Rovers, Huddersfield Giants and Catalans Dragons, but has made way for Mickey Higham in the only change to the side that convincingly won the semi-final earlier this month.

Higham missed the semi-final with a broken thumb but has done enough in Warrington's last two matches to earn a place on the bench, Smith preferring his greater strength and experience to the delicate Myler who has been targeted recently.

Michael Monaghan, Lance Todd Trophy winner as man of the match in last year's 25-16 win over Huddersfield, switches from hooker to scrum-half, with Jon Clarke starting as hooker.

Warrington team: Mathers; Riley, Atkins, King, Hicks; Briers, Monaghan; Morley (capt), Clarke, Carvell, L Anderson, Westwood, Harrison. Substitutes: V Anderson, Wood, Higham, Solomona.