Huddersfield begin life after Rick Stone following his sacking earlier in the week with a home tie against neighbours Leeds Rhinos as the busy Easter programme gets underway.
Stone helped Huddersfield to avoid relegation in 2016 after joining midway through the season, before guiding them to a top 8 finish in 2017. However, the Giants have lost 5 of 7 games this season, forcing the board to take action. Chris Thorman will take temporary charge until a new coach is put in place.
As Stone’s sacking suggests, Huddersfield’s season has yet to get going. The Giants failed to build on their only wins of the season against Warrington in round 2 and Widnes in round 5, and a series of poor performances leaves them in 11th, with only Catalans below them.
The Australian’s final game as boss was the 48-10 loss to a red-hot Wigan at the DW Stadium last Friday, a defeat that proved to be the final straw as Stone was dismissed a just a few days later.
Despite losing out by a point to Castleford at Elland Road last week, Leeds will go into this game with plenty of confidence after a strong and spirited second half showing almost saw them overturn a 24-point deficit.
The Champions will be looking to take the momentum they built up in that second forty minutes into their Easter weekend fixtures with Huddersfield and Salford and return to winning ways as quickly as possible.
Huddersfield and Leeds met three times last season, with Leeds coming out on top by two wins to one.
The Rhinos won the first game at the John Smith’s Stadium 28-12, before the Giants caused a shock in the reverse fixture by winning 31-12 at Headingley to claim their first win in 10 matches and prevent Leeds from going top of the league.
The third meeting came in the final round of the Super 8’s, a game in which Danny McGuire rolled back the years to score two fantastic tries in a 36-12 success as Leeds once again found their best form at the right time of the season.
Over the last 10 meetings in all competitions, there has been little between the two sides. Leeds have come out on top on 5 occasions, the Giants have been the victors 4 times and there has also been 1 draw, which came back in 2015.
Huddersfield have been hit heavily by injuries and are therefore missing a number of key players, many of whom will be absent for a number of weeks. Jake Mamo (hamstring), Jermaine McGillvary (ankle), Leroy Cudjoe (knee), Gaskell (infected elbow), Kruise Leeming (rested), Tom Symonds (knee) and Sam Wood (knee) are not available, while Danny Brough and Sebastine Ikahihifo will be monitored ahead of the game. Dale Ferguson (not named) and Oliver Roberts will face last fitness tests.
Roberts is included in the 19, as are Tyler Dickinson, Jared Simpson, Sam Hewitt and Louis Senior all come in 5 enforced changes.
Leeds make one change to the 19-man squad named to take on Castleford last week, with Brett Ferres, who could be in for his first appearance since last season’s Grand Final after undergoing knee surgery, replacing Jack Ormondroyd. Prop Brad Singleton has been cleared to play over the Easter weekend following his sin-binning against the Tigers.
Liam Sutcliffe (foot), Adam Cuthbertson (hand), Stevie Ward (calf), Mitch Garbutt (knee), Jimmy Keinhorst (knee) and Nathaniel Peteru (bicep) are all still out.
The 19-man squads in full are-
Huddersfield Giants: Jordan Turner, Aaron Murphy, Danny Brough, Sebastine Ikahihifo, Michael Lawrence, Ryan Hinchcliffe, Jordan Rankin, Oliver Roberts, Ukuma Ta’ai, Paul Clough, Daniel Smith, Adam Walne, Adam O’Brien, Alex Mellor, Darnell McIntosh, Tyler Dickinson, Jared Simpson, Sam Hewitt, Louis Senior.
Leeds Rhinos: Ashton Golding, Tom Briscoe, Kallum Watkins, Ryan Hall, Joel Moon, Richie Myler, Matt Parcell, Brad Singleton, Jamie Jones-Buchanan, Carl Ablett, Brad Dwyer, Brett Delaney, Anthony Mullally, Brett Ferres, Ash Handley, Jack Walker, Cameron Smith, Mikolaj Oledzki, Josh Walters.
Date: Friday 30th March 2018.
Venue: John Smith’s Stadium, Huddersfield.
Referee: Jack Smith.