St Helens coach Justin Holbrook says he is expecting a tough encounter against a much-improved Leeds Rhinos side when they clash in the Betfred Super League at Headingley on Thursday night (Saints 8/11 to win the Grand Final).

Saints have wrapped up the League Leaders’ Shield already and have the edge over the Rhinos this season, beating them on two occasions already, but Holbrook is taking nothing for granted.

The Rhinos are battling for their lives and are desperate to pick up the two points as they look to avoid relegation out of Super League.

Richard Agar’s men have improved over the last couple of weeks, producing thumping wins against Catalans Dragons and Huddersfield Giants, and there will be no complacency in the Saints camp despite their lofty position (Leeds 11/8, Draw 22/1, St Helens 4/6 – Match Betting).

“Leeds have been really impressive and their few new faces they have brought in have played a big part in that,” Holbrook said. “They have been on fire of late so they are going to be a real tough opposition.

“It will be fantastic up there [at Headingley] and it is great the renovations are finally complete and they have got a massive fan base.

“They are also a famous club and it’s great to see them come good in the last few weeks and they will want that to continue.”

Saints are boosted by the return of Morgan Knowles, who has missed the victories over Halifax, Wakefield and Warrington after picking up a rib injury (Knowles 35/1 to score first try).

He replaces Joseph Paulo, who misses out against Leeds after picking up a hamstring injury in the win against Wire.

For the Rhinos, forward Stevie Ward is back available after suffering a knee injury against Saints six months ago, while Nathaniel Peteru and Cameron Smith are also pushing for starts. However, Leeds will be without the suspended Brad Singleton.

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