HIGHLY-RATED Leeds Rhinos hooker Paul McShane will face the Giants at the Stobart Stadium on Sunday after moving on loan to Widnes for the rest of the season.
The injury-hit Vikings acted quickly to bring in McShane in the midst of a major hooking crisis.
With club captain Jon Clarke serving a one-match ban this weekend and his understudy Lloyd White having been ruled out for the rest of the season with a knee injury, Vikings’ coach Denis Betts has wasted little time filling the void.
And it’s a deal which should also benefit McShane, who had hoped to cement a regular first-team spot at Headingley this season after being handed the No9 squad shirt.
That’s not been the case, however, with the outstanding form of half-back turned dummy-half Rob Burrow and arrival of on-loan Giants hooker Shaun Lunt on loan having restricted McShane’s appearances.
“Paul McShane’s come in on loan and he’s already trained with us,” said Betts, who also released first-choice No9 and now Giants hooker Scott Moore earlier in the season.
“He was supposed to have gone to London, but something happened.
“We were looking at a couple of options to give us No9 cover anyway, so we’ve been scouting around.
“Paul was looking to find some game-time because he isn’t getting any at Leeds at the moment and if I’m honest he really suits the way we want to play.
“I’m really pleased we’ve got him until the end of the year because with Lloyd being out we haven’t got another hooker in the squad.”
McShane made his Leeds first-team debut on the opening day of the 2009 Super League season against Crusaders at Headingley.
He made two further appearances in 2009, including his first start against Warrington Wolves.
The 22-year-old made a further 13 Super League appearances in 2010, nine for the Rhinos and four on loan at Hull.
Widnes will be looking to put their 68-4 drubbing by Warrington at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday behind them against the Giants this weekend, although they are again lacking options because of the current injury situation.
And that doesn’t look like improving in the short term, with Betts and his staff monitoring the fitness of half-back Rhys Hanbury.
The Australian picked up a severe graze on the bone dry Etihad pitch against the Wolves which the Widnes medical team are hoping will not keep him out this weekend.
Betts only had 17 fit players for that Magic Weekend clash, and it looks as if little is about to change.
As well as the interest in McShane’s performance, the potential appearance of Moore is bound to be another main talking point.
The Giants hooker was axed by the Vikings earlier in the season for off-field reasons, and this weekend will be the first time he has returned to the club.