GAVIN RHODES returns to Huddersfield’s ‘engine room’ tomorrow for the home clash with Hull (3.00), and coach Dan Hyde will be hoping it’s just what the ‘Doctor ordered’ as his side are still seeking that elusive first win.
Dr Rhodes – a specialist registrar at Doncaster Hospital – has missed the last five games due to a medial ligament injury, and his absence has really hit the pack’s structure.
“Gav is something of a talisman for the team and gives us a real presence in the front five,” said Hyde.
“He also does the basics very well and just has so much nous and experience. And despite being a big man, he has great hands.
“And with Gavin’s return, it allows skipper Nick Sharpe to return to No8. Nick was quite happy to stick his hand up and fill in at lock, but it’s no secret his preferred position is in the back row.”
The other major change in Huddersfield’s starting line-up tomorrow sees Lawrence Sanderson come into the front row for Alex Battye, who takes a spell on the bench.
Sanderson only made himself available again last week for the match against Dudley Kingswinford following increased commitments at University and at home, where he is now a proud father.
He got a run-out last week during the second half of the drawn game with Dudley and Hyde his hoping hisblockbusting presence will soften up the Hull front row, allowing stand-out prop Battye some well-earned rest time on the bench.
“Alex has had a tremendous season so far, but with Loz’s return he gets a chance to ‘put his feet up for a while’.”
Like Huddersfield, Hull have not had the best of starts to the season, and are currently fifth bottom of National II North having won only three of their 11 starts, the most recent coming last week when they beat Leicester Lions 27-13.
“We know exactly how Hull play,” added Hyde. “They will be pinging it into the corners, and playing ‘catch and drive’. So we must concentrate on retaining the ball and depriving them of possession.”
Huddersfield: Owen; Booth, Clark, Paxman, Moon; Hinchliffe, Duffy; Stringwell, Murphy, Sanderson, N Rhodes, G Rhodes, Hinchliff, Lewis, Sharpe. Subs: Battye, Birkhead, Mitchell, Hoyle, Hyde.