LEEDS Rhinos head coach Brian McDermott is aiming to field his strongest possible team when they entertain Wakefield Trinity Wildcats in the Heatshot Festive Challenge on Boxing Day.
The pre-season friendly fixture will mark Richard Agar’s first outing as Wakefield boss but he is set to face a stern challenge with opposite number McDermott revealing his plans to treat the encounter as a league game.
McDermott said: “I know in the past that the Boxing Day game has seen various strengths of teams playing but we will field our strongest possible team with the exception of the England players, who have not returned to training yet, and Brent Webb and Brett Delaney, who have been given extra time off to return home.
“We only have the game against Featherstone for Rob Burrow’s testimonial before the start of the season so it is important that we approach the Heatshot Festive Challenge like it is a league match and look to play in that manner.
“We need to be ready to hit the ground running come the start of the season as we have a tough start and Boxing Day is vital for that.”
Ex-Wakefield props Darrell Griffin and Richard Moore are both expected to start for Leeds in the meeting with their former club.
Read Friday’s Wakefield Express for more news from the Wakefield Wildcats.