FORGOTTEN recruit Andy Yates’ big chance is coming, Leeds Rhinos coach Brian McDermott says.
Yates signed for Rhinos from partner club Hunslet Hawks last year, but suffered an Achilles injury early in pre-season training and has not played since.
But speaking ahead of tonight’s trip to Warrington Wolves, McDermott revealed Yates is now back in full training and is likely to make his comeback on dual-registration at Hunslet next month.
“Andy Yates is back running with the troops again and he’s looking something like, all of a sudden,” McDermott said.
“He will probably start off playing on dual-registration at Hunslet in the next coming weeks, if (Hawks coach) Barry Eaton sees fit to play him.
“He will probably come into contention for us later on and we will be able to roll the squad about again.”
Yates return to fitness will give McDermott another option in the pack and he has also reported good news on other long-term casualties.
Paul Aiton (illness), Rob Burrow (broken collarbone) and Jamie Jones-Buchanan (torn biceps) all remain on the sidelines, but Jamie Peacock is set to play tonight after missing the win over Hull a week ago, due to a leg injury.
“He is probably going to feature,” McDermott confirmed. “It is nothing serious, he just got a bit of a knock to his leg.
“We will check on him, but he should be all right.”
Burrow and Jones-Buchanan are recovering well, but Aiton will be sidelined for another month due to medication he is taking to treat an unspecified illness.
The Leeds coach added: “Rob and Jonesy are making great gains, but with Paul it is just a case of ticking the boxes.
“He has to go through the process and there’s nothing we can do about that, but we will have a look at him in the coming weeks and see where he is at.”
Warrington will go into tonight’s game without star forward Ben Westwood, who scored four tries when the sides met in last year’s play-offs at HJ Stadium.
Westwood was banned for three games for a dangerous throw in last Sunday’s win at Wakefield Trinity Wildcats and McDermott said: “He’s a very, very good player.
“You’d say he is a strike player, but at the same time he is a very clever defender – he can make tackles and he can cart the ball up and make the hard yards when they need them.
“If he’s not there they are a lesser team without him, but we are preparing for a very good Warrington team, regardless.
“Whoever they put in there, they have got some very promising youngsters.
“Ben Currie is making some great strides in the game and whoever plays that position will be capable of doing a good job.”
Sunday’s win at Wakefield was Warrington’s third successive victory.
“Uncharacteristically they had a bit of a slower start to the season than what we are used to from Warrington,” McDermott said.
“But I don’t think anybody who’s smart enough had any doubt they would pick up. They have had some very good wins, especially against
St Helens the other week and they are looking every bit as much of a threat as for the last four or five years.”
McDermott also feels Rhinos are back on track following their Magic Weekend loss to Wigan Warriors, but insists they still need to improve.
“It was a controlled, solid performance last week,” McDermott said.
“But there’s still a lot to work on and a lot of improving to do.”