Leeds Rhinos: Pack star Ablett has Dragons in his sights

Carl Ablett.
Carl Ablett.
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LEEDS RHINOS’ Carl Ablett hopes to be back in action for their home meeting with Catalans Dragons Friday June 3.

The England second-row has missed the last three games for the struggling champions due to a problematic ankle injury.

However, he plans to return to bolster Super League’s bottom side in the next fortnight.

“I’ve not run yet,” explained Ablett.

“I did my ankle at Widnes and then I came back following what was an eight-week injury after four weeks.

“I was just desperate to get back out there but then I just re-injured it against Saints and it has been a slow process since.

“I’m just trying to get it right, though.

“There’s no point taking to the field if you’re not 100 per cent.

“I’m not doing myself or the team any good so it’s important I get as fit as I can and bring what I can to the team.

“To do that I need to be 100 per cent so hopefully I’ll be back in the next two weeks to get back out there.”

Ablett, meanwhile, admits he has rarely seen a better Super League for quality players in his position.

As well as Warrington’s Ben Currie and Wigan’s John Bateman leading the way, Hull FC have four second-rows in fine nick – ex-Rhinos star Gareth Ellis, Mark Minichello, Samoa captain Frank Pritchard and Tonga rival Sika Manu – while Catalans have recruited two quality internationals in Aussies David Taylor and Glenn Stewart.

“When you list them at the moment, there are some quality back-rows,” said Ablett, the 30-year-old, who has won six Grand Finals with Leeds.

“They are all in form, too, and I think back-row’s become a more important role as the game has grown.

“All those players can operate in different positions, too; Bateman plays centre, Currie played in the halves last week …

“The all-round skill of the back-row has evolved from the old days of just doing the tackling and taking a few hit-ups.

“The competition among Super League’s back-rows is pretty formidable and it is impressive.”

Ablett attended Rhinos Challenge – the UK’s biggest rugby league camp – at Butlins’ Skegness last weekend with Leeds Rhinos Foundation and team-mates Danny McGuire, Ryan Hall and Jamie Jones-Buchanan.

“It was a great experience,” he said. “Me and Hally were talking and quite surprised to see 6,000 people there.

“Back in my day I didn’t even have a tracksuit with my junior club!

“Here you saw all the different teams, though, even one from Essex which just shows the game is spreading.

“We walked around, watched all the kids play, presented trophies to most of the teams and to see the size and volume of what was happening down there and how smooth it all ran was really impressive.

“I wished I was seven or eight years old again to get a chance to do that stuff. With Middleton and Hunslet Parkside we didn’t get anywhere!

“We only played team around Leeds and then Blackbrook once in a national cup final.”

Hull FC captain Gareth Ellis. PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe

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