Leeds Rhinos will bid to become only the second British team to ever win the World Club Challenge in Australia when they travel to Melbourne next month.
NRL champions Melbourne Storm await them down under after they refused to travel to
Yorkshire for the game.
History is against the Rhinos as no British team has won the challenge in Australia since the Super League era began and the Storm have had their number in recent meetings. Leeds are the huge underdogs in this match but have every reason to be confident after their superb exploits last season.
In 2017, Leeds displayed grit and determination to bounce back from a dismal campaign the previous year and seize glory once again. They got off to an inauspicious start, losing 66-10 to Castleford and Gary Hetherington faced calls to dismiss head coach Brian McDermott as pessimism abounded. But Hetherington stuck by McDermott and was vindicated as Leeds found their feet and soared back into the top four.
Matt Parcell proved to be a great signing and the Rhinos found consistency that deserted them in 2016. Their 43-24 win over Hull FC in the Challenge Cup semi-final was a particular high point, but they were not given much chance in the Grand Final against table toppers Castleford, after failing to beat them on four occasions throughout the season, but departing captain Danny McGuire put in a sensational shift to drive them to a thumping 24-6 victory, scoring two tries and walking off with the man of the match award.
Now Leeds have to adapt to life post-McGuire, and before they head down under they have two crunch Super League fixtures to contend with.
They have lost successive opening day fixtures and will have to start the campaign with a lot more intensity if they are to end that poor run. We are now just a few days away from the start of the season, and champions Leeds get things underway as they travel to Warrington on Thursday evening.
The Rhinos are pretty heavy underdogs in this game too: William Hill will have the latest odds, make sure to review them, and you will see that they are priced at 11/8, while Warrington are the odds-on favourites at 8/13. It is nowhere near as bad as the World Club Challenge, where Leeds are all the way out at 15/2 and the Storm are just 1/12 to win it.
The Wolves have been a strong and consistent team over the past couple of years, so it will be a difficult game, but front-rower Brad Singleton insists Leeds are in great
shape heading into the new season.
“I think we’ve laid some great foundations with how we left off last year,” he said.
“The boys who’ve come in have added some quality to the group and I think we will be there or thereabouts come the Warrington game.”
Myler has big boots to fill, but he is strong and extremely experienced, and Dwyer is also a seasoned pro. Stevie Ward, who scored 10 tries in 26 appearances in 2017, is set for a big season if he remains injury-free. Throw in Ryan Hall and Kallum Watkins and Leeds have a team stacked with magnificent talent.
The 11/8 on them stunning the Wolves looks interesting, and you have to say that 15/2 on them against the Storm is huge value on a team that dominated last year.