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Rhinos v Sea Eagles: Teams
At Headingley, Friday February 17, kick-off 8pm
The squad has taken it very seriously. It's a good reward for the players to represent the NRL competition against the best team in the Super League. It's a big honour for everyone involved and I know all the players have been looking forward to the tour.
Manly co-captain Jason King
Quotes of the week
Leeds coach Brian McDermott admits his players will have revenge on their minds when they face Manly in Friday's Big Soup World Club Challenge.
The Rhinos will be looking to match rivals Wigan and Bradford by claiming the prestigious title for a third time, but they are also in danger of suffering a third consecutive defeat in the contest.
While victorious over Canterbury Bulldogs and Melbourne Storm in 2005 and 2008, they lost to Manly three years ago and in 2010 Melbourne got their revenge.
The current Rhinos squad contains 12 members of the side that went down 28-20 to the Sea Eagles and McDermott, who is taking charge of his first World Club Challenge, has acknowledged that the defeat still rankles within the Leeds camp.
"It's huge," he said. "We're really looking forward to it. The prize on offer is to be called world champions.
"Pretty much straight after the Grand Final, attention started turning to the World Club Challenge.
"Leeds have got history in it. The last time they played in one against Manly they lost so I do know they are talking about it.
"There are some individual players who will use it as motivation. As staff and officials, we won't be using it but I do know it will have a bearing on people's desire to get the job done."
English clubs still maintain a winning record in the contest having won 11 of the 17 meetings stretching back to Manly's 8-2 defeat by Wigan in 1987.
Given English clubs had home advantage in all but one of those 17 encounters the statistics are not surprising and the NRL champions will once more have to adjust to both the weather and jetlag, having left an Australia summer just a week ago.
But, with NRL clubs having won the last three match-ups, McDermott - who is set to select Ben Jones-Bishop on the wing in place of the injured Lee Smith - is convinced the Australians can overcome those hurdles and will not be cutting them much slack should his side emerge triumphant.
However, he concedes that his Rhinos outfit will be at an advantage with two Super League outings already under their belts, while they will also have the benefit of running out on home soil with the match being staged at Headingley where a 21,000 capacity crowd is expected.
"The fact that we've had to use our shoulders and defend our tryline and get through that blowy period of a game, will give us an advantage," he said. "I'm wary of saying how much.
"For a one-off game, I can't see it disrupting their preparation too much.
"They're at the back end of pre-season now and I'm sure they will have played an in-house game or simulated some game-time situations in training.
"Should we get the job done, I won't be affording them too much in terms of lack of preparation. There is no doubt they will be ready."
McDermott's message was certainly echoed by the Sea Eagles with Manly co-captain Jason King insisting the Australian champions are up for the challenge.
The Sydney side arrived early and played London Broncos in a warm-up match ahead of their 2009 meeting with the Rhinos but this time opted for a whistle-stop trip to England.
They have given themselves just six days to become acclimatised and get over the jetlag, but King is confident it will be long enough to justify their pre-match favouritism.
"The squad has taken it very seriously," said the experienced front-row forward, who was in the side that beat Leeds 28-20 three years ago.
"It's a good reward for the players to represent the NRL competition against the best team in the Super League.
"It's a big honour for everyone involved and I know all the players have been looking forward to the tour."
King, 30, who jointly captains the Sea Eagles with former St Helens favourite Jamie Lyon, will be making his comeback from injury after sitting out his side's Grand Final win over New Zealand Warriors in October.
Manly are also boosted by the return of Australian Test winger David Williams, who sustained a broken neck towards the end of the regular season in 2011.
Williams is one of 11 internationals in the Sea Eagles' starting 13, eight of whom were in their triumphant team of 2009.
The match will be former player Geoff Toovey's first competitive one as head coach, having succeeded Des Hasler in acrimonious circumstances in the close season, but he expects a seamless transition.
Toovey's men were beaten 38-6 by Cronulla in their only trial match a fortnight ago but he is reading little into that result, nor Leeds' 20-6 Super League defeat at Wigan last Saturday.
"I think a lot of our boys were already on the plane," Toovey said.
"We've seen a couple of Leeds' games and against Wigan I thought they were playing a little within themselves as well."
Leeds (probable): B Webb; B Jones-Bishop, K Watkins, Z Hardaker, R Hall; K Sinfield, D McGuire; R Bailey, R Burrow, J Peacock, J Jones-Buchanan, B Delaney, C Ablett
Replacements: K Leuluai, I Kirke or C Clarkson, W Hauraki, D Griffin
Manly: B Stewart; D Williams, J Lyon, S Matai, M Oldfield; K Foran, D Cherry-Evans; J King, M Ballin, B Kite, A Watmough, T Williams, G Stewart
Replacements: J Buhrer, V Mauro, D Lussick, G Rose.
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