21st February 2019, 12:02 | StHelens

Buoyant Rhinos a concern for Saints coach Holbrook

Buoyant Rhinos a concern for Saints coach Holbrook

St Helens coach Justin Holbrook is wary of a Leeds Rhinos team on the rise as they look to make it three wins out of three at the start of the Betfred Super League season on Friday night.

The new-look Rhinos, who are playing their first four fixtures away from home to allow re-development work to continue at Headingley, picked up their first win under coach Dave Furner at the third attempt at Salford Red Devils last Sunday.

“The Rhinos will come with confidence after that win,” Holbrook said.

“They had a bit of a slow start but that’s to be expected when you have a new coach and new players. They will, of course, get better over time as their new guys gel together.

“They have recruited well from the NRL, with Trent Merrin and Konrad Hurrell, to add to some of the dangerous guys they already have in their team like Jack Walker.

“I am happy how we have started the season and we want to continue that this week against a tough opponent, who generally plays well at our stadium.

“We will need to be on our game as always against them to get the two points.”

Warrington Wolves, who went top of the embryonic table without playing a match last week thanks to Salford’s heavy home defeat by the Rhinos, will also seek to maintain their 100 per cent record when they visit Huddersfield Giants.

The Giants have won their last five home meetings with the Wolves, whose last win at the John Smith’s Stadium was in March 2014, and are boosted by the return of a host of regulars.

Second rower Ukuma Ta’ai has received his new visa while England winger Jermaine McGillvary and stand-off Lee Gaskell have recovered from injury.

“The break definitely came at a good time for us,” said coach Simon Woolford.

“I suppose you could call it a little crisis with the injuries we’ve suffered and the numbers we didn’t have available for rounds one and two.

“It’s not ideal but we’re confident with what we’ve done throughout pre-season and the things we’ve put in place. We know it’s a long season and we know it’s going to be a successful one.

“Hopefully we’ve come through this tough period now with guys on the sideline and we can start with a good performance this week.

“There will be a couple of lads who don’t get picked this week who could probably put up an argument and say that they feel hard done by.”

Woolford is expecting a tough forward battle but has identified former Canberra stand-off Blake Austin as Warrington’s main threat.

“I know Blake quite well from the Raiders days,” he said. “He’s a great person more than anything.

“His attitude towards life and football is great so I knew he would slot straight in and the Warrington boys would take a liking to Blake. I wish him well – just not this week.”