Cunningham eyes Rhinos scalp

St Helens' Atelea Vea set to return for the clash with the Rhinos
St Helens' Atelea Vea set to return for the clash with the Rhinos
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Saints coach Keiron Cunningham is hoping reinforcements will help to get his side back on track when they host Super League champions Leeds on Friday night.

Cunningham, who pledged to shake up his side following their 30-12 home defeat by Catalans Dragons, welcomes back from injury centre Mark Percival and forwards Atelea Vea and Joe Greenwood. He also expects to give Jonny Lomax his first Super League appearance for more than 12 months after the full-back’s recovery from a second knee reconstruction.

“Getting a few back will definitely help the cause,” Cunningham said. “Once you get something that resembles your starting 13 back, you know you’re going to be a lot more composed in certain situations.”

The Rhinos, who are still without six front-line players including skipper Danny McGuire, are aiming to complete the double over Cunningham’s men following their 30-18 win at Headingley last month.

The champions recorded only their third win of the campaign with a dramatic victory over Hull last Friday and Cunningham admits they are showing signs of getting back to their best.

“I thought they were brilliant,” he said. “They should have beaten Salford the week before - if there had been a video referee that night, things could have been different.

“In their games this year they have been fighting, battling and have been edged out by a try or so. That Leeds spirit never dies, regardless of which players leave and which players come in, they are just finding a different way of playing without those players they have lost.

“I think the penny sort of dropped for them a bit last Friday, I was hoping it would last another few weeks.

“But I enjoy these Leeds-Saints battles. (Leeds coach) Brian McDermott is a good friend of mine and we always look forward to these games.”