LEEDS RHINOS’ director of rugby Kevin Sinfield says he is actually disappointed Salford Red Devils are missing their star player tonight.
Australian stand-off Jackson Hastings, who has been inspirational since joining in July, starts a two-game ban when his side arrive at Emerald Headingley.
It is a major boost for Leeds as they look to gain the Qualifiers win that will take them another step towards clinching Super League survival.
But Sinfield, whose side lost 38-22 at Salford on Hastings’ debut, insisted: “I have to say I’m a little bit disappointed. I wish he was playing. He destroyed us last time in that first 20 minutes and I’d have loved to have welcomed him back here and showed him what Headingley is all about.
“We were looking forward to going up against him again but it’s not to be. The same with Luke Burgess as well. Luke didn’t play last time but being a former Rhino – and it being his last year – it’d have been great for him to have a game over here, too.
“They will be slightly different now with probably Jack Littlejohn coming in in the halves. Hastings has allowed Robert Lui some freedom and that’s brought the best out of his game.
“We were looking forward to coming up against that and testing ourselves but we’ll be ready for whatever they bring.”
Leeds hope to right some wrongs from that last meeting when Sinfield conceded he got some selections wrong with the following week’s Challenge Cup semi-final in mind.
Salford boast a 100 per cent win record in the Qualifiers so far and another victory tonight will guarantee their place in Super League in 2019.
Leeds edged their way to a tense win at Widnes Vikings on Sunday. Sinfield added: “We played well in patches but we need to play better for a longer period of time come Friday.
We were looking forward to coming up against that and testing ourselves but we’ll be ready for whatever they bring.Kevin Sinfield
“We’re certainly capable of that and the players are in a good frame of mind.
“I’m looking forward to seeing how far we’ve come since that last Salford game. We’ve made some steps, a lot behind the scenes, but it’s starting to come together on the field especially defensively last week. We hope for a little more now.”