Leeds Rhinos head coach Brian McDermott admits his side cannot wait to release their pent-up energies on Bradford Bulls this evening.
The champions’ double postponement at Wakefield on Friday and Sunday last weekend means they will have had an unexpected 13-day break between matches when they take to the field at Headingley.
That is perhaps not necessarily a bad thing ahead of the busy Easter schedule but McDermott admitted: “It was frustrating seeing the game called off twice.
“The players were ready to play and so they’ve had a while to wait now. But what better way to get back into it – a derby with Bradford at Headingley.
“Don’t ask me why but this fixture tends to create the best and worst in both teams and it is just a massive, intense match which we always look forward to.”
Leeds’ last outing was a very professional defeat of Wigan Warriors at Headingley, while Bradford make the short trip after an arduous trip to France where they lost out to Catalan.
“It’s a difficult place to go Perpignan as we know ourselves but Bradford have enjoyed recent visits to Headingley,” said McDermott. “Whether they’ve won or lost it’s always a tight game where no quarter is asked or given.
“I’m sure they’ll come with that attitude again and Franny Cummins – an old Leeds boy – has done a fantastic job gelling their squad together and fighting for each other which is not always the easiest thing to do.”
McDermott, who made his name as a marauding prop at Bradford during their Super League peak, is glad to see the fixture is still on the calender after all last year’s turmoil.
“The competition is better for them being in it,” McDermott said. “It would have been a shame and a big thing for the game in general had they gone under but there are some exciting times ahead of them now.
“They have a group of young fellas who will pull up trees for each other which can be quite exciting. I was in a similar position when I coached the London team.
“If Bradford continue to grow and they get their next licence and everything falls into place, I don’t think it will be too long before they’re one of the big dogs again.”
Leeds have the same 19-man squad as selected for Wakefield, while McDermott admits England centre Kallum Watkins’s excellent form at full-back has given him “food for thought” ahead of Zak Hardaker’s expected return to fitness next month.
Hull FC are without Shannon McDonnell and Danile Holdsworth for the Good Friday derby with Hull KR, Chris Green and Jay Pitts coming in, while their visitors recall prop Adam Walker.
Danny Kirmond, Tim Smith and Andy Raleigh are all back for Wakefield at Castleford, who recall Justin Carney after suspension.