Leeds Rhinos v Hull FC preview
Brian McDermott admits Leeds will go into Friday's Super League home game against Hull with one eye on the Carnegie Challenge Cup semi-final.
The reigning champions are on a roll with three consecutive wins and Rhinos coach McDermott is desperately hoping they can maintain their improved form for the Cup clash with holders Wigan at Huddersfield on Saturday week.
"We make no bones about that," he said. "We want to be in good nick for that. It's not that we've been flying high in the league and are able to ease off the gas this week ready for a big game.
"We want to go hard and fast tomorrow and hopefully get us in good form for the week after.
"It's going to be a big game and we'll have to be good. We don't want to be relying on a one-off bout of form."
The Rhinos were lying in ninth place in the table until setting off on their recent run in which they have racked up 142 points and they will go fifth if they topple Hull on Friday.
"We've had two very good performances over the last three games so there's enough there to work with," McDermott added.
Hull ended a run of four games without a win when they snatched a 28-24 victory over Huddersfield last Sunday and will also be encouraged by a 34-20 success over the Rhinos in May, which enabled them to end an 11-match losing run against their arch rivals.
"They did a job on us last time," said McDermott. "They played too fast and aggressive for us. That hurt the players and it's still in there."
Former England captain Jamie Peacock will return from injury to make his 350th Super League appearance and McDermott expects his four men involved in Wednesday night's England-Exiles match to play their second games in 48 hours.
"It's not ideal but it's how it is," he said. "We'll deal with it."
Hull, who had Tom Briscoe and Willie Manu playing on Wednesday, have called up prop Chris Green and put assistant coach Lee Radford on stand-by after losing Danny Tickle and Sam Moa with season-ending arm injuries.
"It definitely leaves us a little short," said coach Peter Gentle. "We're not having the best run of luck with injuries at the moment but that is part of the game and we must roll our sleeves up and get on with it.
"We have a team who are very confident regardless of what side we put out and who we play against and they know they'll need to continue to dig deep for the rest of the season and work very hard."
Leeds welcome back from injury second rower Brett Delaney, as well as prop Peacock. McDermott also includes England internationals Carl Ablett, Rob Burrow and Jamie Jones-Buchanan after they featured in Wednesday night's international origin game, along with the Exiles forward Kylie Leuluai.