Bash brothers Ryan Bailey and Brett Delaney will be fit for Leeds Rhinos’ Super League kick-off next month, despite injury scares.
But coach Brian McDermott has confirmed fellow forward Ian Kirke could miss the start of the campaign away to Hull KR on February 16.
Bailey (Achilles) and Kirke (ribs) missed Rhinos’ Boxing Day draw with Wakefield Trinity Wildcats and Delaney was substituted in the second half with a chest problem.
Leeds’ players reported back yesterday after a Christmas break and McDermott said the news on Bailey and Delaney – whose friendship has earned them the Bash Brothers nickname – is positive.
“Bails will be good,” said the coach. “Because of the injury he had last year he was very keen to play on Boxing Day and it was a shame he couldn’t make it.
“But we weren’t going to push him for that game. I don’t think he could have played anyway and even if he had made it on to the field I don’t think he would have finished the game, so we took the decision not to risk him.”
Of Delaney, McDermott added: “He got some damage to a rib at the top of his chest, so that was very painful to him, but in terms of long-term damage he should be okay.” McDermott revealed Kirke is set to undergo surgery to repair his rib problem.
“He’s going to have a plate fitted,” the coach said. “He had a rib injury last year and he played with it. He has a crack in his rib and we hoped the joint would have knitted together. It has, but not as well as it could have done.
“Rather than going through the season injecting him and trying to manage it we are going to get that sorted out.
“He could be back for the start of the season, but if not he’ll only miss one or two games.”
Rhinos’ England World Cup contingent – Kevin Sinfield, Rob Burrow, Carl Ablett, Ryan Hall, Kallum Watkins and new signing Tom Briscoe – will report in to begin pre-season next week and McDermott said: “That’s when it all starts – the campaign starts on Monday.”
The coach insisted Rhinos will be highly motivated this year after ending 2013 with no major silverware.
He stated: “We weren’t happy with how last season finished.
“There were a lot of positives to take out of it, but we weren’t good enough when it mattered.
“We are a very proud group of people – players, administrators and club – and we don’t ever assume or take for granted we will get to finals. That’s the beauty of this squad, we don’t take anything for granted but we do have high expectations of ourselves.
“After what happened last year there is a determination about us and that started long before pre-season, in the review process we all went through.
“Normally at the end of a season the players are fatigued, tired and ready for a rest, but straight away they could not wait to get started again. I am not going to start shouting about how good pre-season has been, but there is an element of determination about the group.”
Meanwhile, Rhinos are mourning club patron Eddie Moss, who died on New Year’s Day.
Moss was a long-term supporter, a founder member of the Taverners Club in 1965 and became club patron in 2000.
A club statement said: “Eddie was a regular attendee at club functions and a sponsor of the team through his business at Sound Leisure. Eddie was someone who supported his club in their hour of need and that was never forgotten by the management at Leeds.”