sport

Rhinos up for World Challenge

Brian McDermott insists Leeds Rhinos have "a good feeling" this week ahead of their World Club Challenge clash with Melbourne Storm.

As the "house full" signs went up for Friday's showdown with the Australian champions at Headingley, McDermott admits the excitement is building for his team as they bid to retain their world crown with last year's victory over Manly Sea Eagles still fresh in the memory.

"These are the games you want to be involved in," he said. "The players couldn't wait to get in.

"We came in on Saturday and put the Salford game to bed and we had a good session on Monday morning. It's already got a good feeling to it.

"Headingley is a special place to play. To play in front of a full house is brilliant and to be playing one of the best teams the NRL has produced means it's a special occasion.

"You feel very humbled when you are involved in these games."

McDermott will have to find a new full-back for Friday's game after England international Zak Hardaker was ruled out with a broken thumb sustained in his side's win over Salford.

Centre Kallum Watkins, who switched to full-back against the City Reds, and Australian recruit Joe Vickery are among the list of alternative options open to the coach.

Melbourne captain Cameron Smith inspired his side to victory when the two sides last met three years ago but that was at Elland Road and the Kangaroos skipper admits playing the Rhinos on their own turf adds to the size of their task.

"We've had some success at Elland Road but it's the first time I've had the opportunity to play at Headingley," he said. "There's a lot of tradition and seeing the cricket ground is pretty impressive.

"I know it's going to be a pretty intense atmosphere but the boys are excited about the occasion and they're looking forward to getting out there on Friday.

"It was a very challenging match three years ago and I know it's going to be tough this year.

"We've had a great attitude the whole trip. We've been here for a week already and training been great. We enjoyed the time we had down south and it's business time now.

"We know if we don't turn up with the right attitude on Friday night, it's not going to happen for us. We're playing against a world-class football team with world-class players."