Leeds Rhinos: Handley willing to bide time at Leeds

Ash Handley

Ash Handley

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LEEDS RHINOS’ fringe players will be looking to catch the eye of both coaches in Sunday’s final pre-season game at Featherstone Rovers.

Rovers are Rhinos’ new dual-registration partners, so some of the Leeds men on duty could find themselves returning to Big Fellas Stadium in the Kingstone Press Championship.

Winger Ash Handley is now too old for Rhinos’ under-19s and may be in line for a move to Rovers as he awaits a Super League chance.

He admitted: “I’m not sure where I’ll be playing this year.

“We haven’t spoken about anything like that [dual-registration] yet, but when the season starts I’ll probably find out more.

“Hopefully I’ll be playing regular rugby, but I’ll just have to see what happens.”

Front-rower Jordan Baldwinson, another member of Rhinos’ side for tomorrow, spent last season at Rovers and was named Championship young player of the year.

“It’s a different game,” Handley, who was in the Leeds team which pipped Hunslet Hawks to win the Lazenby Cup earlier this month, said of the lower divisions.

“I am looking forward to playing against men now.

“Obviously I played a lot of Super League last year, but before that I only played under-19s against people my age, so I’m looking forward to this game and seeing what happens after.”

Handley scored 13 tries in 20 appearances last term after stepping into the team when Tom Briscoe suffered a long-term shoulder injury.

Opportunities this year could again depend on other players’ fitness, but he insisted he is prepared to bide his time.

He added: “I’m still only young. I will just see how it goes and hopefully I’ll get a chance like I did last year.

“Mac [coach Brian McDermott] knows I am there if I am needed, but nobody knows how the season will pan out so I’ll just have to see what happens.

“Obviously it is a new team now, a few old heads have gone and some new players come in.

“Hopefully I can get a few games, play with all the new lads and see how we cope.”

Rovers coach Jon Sharp stressed: “My focus is very much on my team and my players. The ones playing for Leeds are Leeds players going into this game and I don’t want to rule the roost over whether they are going to be playing for us or Leeds.

“That is not my role, but there is a link-up and I am looking forward to seeing a really good game.

“There’s some quality players in Leeds’ team and it’s going to be a challenge for us.”

Featherstone Rovers: from Brown, Craven, Milner, Johnson, Cooper, Channing, Tagg, Taulapapa, Ormondroyd, Hardman, Davies, Turner, Spears, Briggs, Cording, Thackeray, Bostock, Griffin, Wildie.

Leeds Rhinos: Golding, Handley, Norfolk, Brierley, Jones, Wray, Lilley, Baldwinson, Falloon, Achurch, Walters, Flynn, Smith. Subs: Sanderson, Oledzki, Brady, Hallas.

Referee: George Stokes (Wigan).

Kick-off: Tomorrow, 3pm.

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