Brian McDermott: Leeds Rhinos are underdogs in Challenge Cup clash with Huddersfield Giants
Brian McDermott says his Leeds side remain underdogs in Saturday's Challenge Cup tie at Huddersfield.
Last Updated: 07/05/13 3:25pm
The Rhinos go into the fifth-round tie on the back of an eight-game unbeaten streak, while Huddersfield's five-match winning run came to an abrupt halt with a 34-12 mauling by Warrington last weekend.
However, the Giants were the last team to beat Leeds, winning 32-8 at Headingley in March, and Rhinos coach McDermott says Paul Anderson's men remain the form team.
"Based on form throughout the year, they're favourites," he said.
"They're higher up in the league than we are, they've scored more points than us and they've beaten more teams than us."
Although they have not lifted the trophy since 1999, Leeds have reached the last three Challenge Cup finals and Anderson admits he would love his side to emulate their record.
"The thing with Leeds is they have a big history in big games," he said. "That's the key for them and it's what we want to try and emulate."
Anderson is hoping their home defeat by Warrington will prove to be a temporary blip as they seek to remain on course for the last eight.
"We've generally responded well in the past when our backs have been to the wall," he said.
"It's a big game, it's live on TV and there's been a big initiative with tickets to try and get a big crowd."
Huddersfield will have second rower Brett Ferres and centre Joe Wardle back after being rested against Warrington while
David Faiumu has recovered from a rib injury to provide back-up to hooker Shaun Lunt.
With on-loan hooker Brad Dwyer unable to play against his parent club, Anderson opted to give a debut to 17-year-old hooker Kruise Leeming against the Wolves but is unlikely to play the rookie on Saturday.
"We've got to protect him," Anderson said. "He's young and inexperienced.
"There are plenty of people who have come into teams at 17 and never looked back but we've got to be patient with him."
McDermott expects to field the team that beat Bradford 42-22 last Friday, with former England captain Jamie Peacock overcoming a knee injury sustained in that match.
"I got my knee in an awkward position but it's come out of it unscathed," Peacock said. "It feels fine, I don't know how."
McDermott added: "JP has done incredibly well to get away with that. It was a potential leg snap."