CATALANS Dragons coach Kevin Walters admits Leeds made the logical decision in selecting his side as their Super League semi-final opponents.
Leeds, who got the unique chance to select their opponents as part of a revamped play-off system, opted to play Catalans, who only secured the eighth and final play-off spot by winning at St Helens in the last match of the regular season.
The Leeds-Catalans tie will take place at Headingley on Friday, while Wigan will take on arch rivals St Helens in a mouth-watering derby at Knowsley Road 24 hours later.
The Dragons have won just two of nine previous meetings with Leeds and have conceded 192 points on their four visits to Headingley, but they have hit form at the right time of the year with consecutive away wins over Saints, Wakefield and Huddersfield.
Walters, pictured, said: "I think Leeds made the logical decision. If there had been no clubcall, we were lowest ranked winner so the two would have played each other.
"Headingley hasn’t been a happy hunting ground for the Dragons but that’s to be expected, they’ve been champions for the last two years.
"There’s not a tougher away game to go to, particularly with the pressure involved of the semi-finals, but we’re happy to be invited to the game."
The decision was made jointly by Rhinos coach Brian McClennan and chief executive Gary Hetherington, who made the announcement at a televised press conference at Headingley.
"It was difficult because they’re both in such good form," said McClennan, whose side are aiming to complete a first-ever hat-trick of Super League titles. "I thought the way Catalans beat Huddersfield the other night was very impressive.
"We liked the idea of playing the lowest-ranked team that qualified and that was the starting point.
"But, when you’re in this position, you use it wisely and, if injuries or suspensions had come out of last night’s match, we might have used it differently."
Catalans must make a fourth successive trip to England and McClennan admitted he had taken into account the travelling involved for the visitors.
"That was a factor," he said. "It is tough but they’re obviously doing it well. They’ve done it three weeks in a row now so they’ve got their travel situation sorted out now.
"They’re playing very good football. They’re in fine form. There’s a lot of experience there. If you look at all four teams left in the semi-finals, they’re all capable of beating each other."
Leeds captain Kevin Sinfield revealed the Rhinos players had been involved in the early discussions over their next opponents and admits he has some reservations.
"I’d like to see how it pans out," he said. "As a player, you want to know who you’re playing. That’s been the big thing for me. I’d have liked to have known last week.
"I can see the interest it’s created and the spotlight it’s given rugby league so anything that puts us in a good place I’m happy with.
"I’m fully behind Bluey and Gary in their pick. We spoke to Bluey last Monday and knew the process that had been taking place. I had a good idea turning up today who we were going to face because of that strategy.
"But you don’t know what the fall-out is going to be from the weekend, with injuries and suspensions."
Wigan coach Brian Noble would like to see the system amended in future so that the top club can choose their opponents from all the remaining teams.
"I would have been happy to have the three teams in there to pick from," he said.
St Helens chairman Eamon McManus, a fierce critic when the system was announced a year ago, admits he still has reservations.
"I’ve been a great supporter of results dictating fixtures," he said. "But I’m aware of the extra publicity that it has produced for the game and I will reserve my judgement for the end of the season.
"I wasn’t perturbed at not having to choose. All four teams are pretty near to each other in terms of standard and fitness and both games are very difficult to call.
"I would have liked to have seen a Wigan-Saints final. I may be biased but I think that is the biggest game in rugby league."