Leeds Rhinos: Garbutt put on standby for Saints blockbuster

Leeds Rhinos new signing Mitch Garbutt with head coach Brian McDermott.

Leeds Rhinos new signing Mitch Garbutt with head coach Brian McDermott.

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NEWLY-ARRIVED AUSTRALIAN forward Mitch Garbutt has a chance of making his Leeds Rhinos debut in Friday’s blockbuster at home to St Helens, coach Brian McDermott has confirmed.

Garbutt met his new teammates for the first time yesterday, just two days after touching down in England and could be in Rhinos’ initial 19-man squad for Friday when it is named tomorrow.

The ex-Brisbane Broncos prop has not played for four weeks, but is injury-free and was in full training in Australia before setting off to Leeds last week.

McDermott said: “There’s chances of him playing.

“We are still having a bit of a run with injuries and we could have done with him two or three weeks ago, when both Kylie [Leuluai] and Brett Delaney were out.

“We’re not out of the woods yet in terms of getting people back from our injury list and he has a chance.”

Leeds came through last Friday’s Challenge Cup quarter-final win at Hull with no major new injuries and McDermott is hopeful Adam Cuthbertson (calf) and Danny McGuire (ankle) could return on Friday.

He said: “With the game last Friday night being played in the wet, it had a slower pace to it.

“In terms of those freaky twists and turns in collisions, there weren’t as many of those.

“Let’s hope we’ve got a few more bodies available to us this week.”

Meanwhile, Rhinos chief executive Gary Hetherington is predicting an “intriguing” finale to the weekly rounds in First Utility Super League.

Hetherington described this week’s visit of Saints, who are one point behind table-topping Leeds - as “huge” and he said: “It is our biggest game of the league season so far.

“Both ourselves and St Helens have been jockeying for top place in the table all season.

“It is a critical game in that regard and then we play Wigan the Thursday after.

“I think it is all shaping up to be an intriguing end to the season, at both ends of the table.”

The top-eight after 23 rounds will go into the Super-8s, playing seven more matches to decide the play-off semi-finalists.

The bottom four will face the Kingstone Press Championship’s leading teams in the Qualifiers, as they battle for places in Super League 2016.

“There’s some big games coming up,” Hetherington predicted.

“I think Wakefield and Salford [the bottom two] will win some games and the battle to get into the top-four – to get four home games [in the Super-8s] – is still wide open. It is a very exciting time.”

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