Leeds Carnegie: Fit-again Hannay spies out an opening

Nathan Hannay.

Nathan Hannay.

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NOW Nathan Hannay has reacquainted himself with his long-lost family, he is desperate to rediscover his spot in the Leeds Carnegie first team too.

The second-row, who joined from Jersey at the start of the season, was born in Halifax but moved away from Yorkshire when still a toddler.

His formative years as a rugby player were spent in the south-west with Sidmouth and Launceston, earning reprehensive honours with Devon, and then on to the Channel Islands.

“When I first came back up here I went back across to Halifax to see my uncle and cousins,” said Hannay, ahead of tomorrow’s B&I Cup game at Scottish club Gala.

“It was weird as the last time I’d seen them I was three years old so they were like strangers to me.

“I’ve finally met them, though, and we had a good chat.

“They’ve been to a couple of games and I’m sure they’ll carry on coming to watch Leeds.

“I just want to do well this weekend now and try getting back a spot in the side.”

Hannay, 29, made a positive start to his Leeds career playing 10 of their opening 12 fixtures and missing just two games – Championship wins at Cornish Pirates and Moseley.

But, with Jimmy Lowes’ side now riding high in third, he has not featured since the 72-0 B&I Cup rout of Aberavon four weeks ago.

“I had a jersey but had one bad game at Aberavon and have fallen down the pecking order since,” he said.

However, his chances would seem to have improved given fellow lock Calum Green has just been told he needs surgery on a shoulder injury.

“That’s how much competition there is here at Leeds. I lost my spot and now it’s a matter of trying to get it back again.

“I have to make the most of every opportunity now.

“I’ve just been trying to get to full fitness after an operation I had on a bulging disc at the beginning of the season.

“I am back fully fit now. I’m biding my time and hoping I’ll play well this week to show what I can do.”

Leeds are well placed to qualify for the B&I Cup quarter-finals for the first time in their history.

Approaching their penultimate group game, they have lost only one fixture so far, going down 21-17 in the opener at Bristol.

They have followed up with comprehensive triumphs over Gala (86-8) and Aberavon (41-22 away and 72-0 at Hull Ionians) meaning another victory tomorrow should set up a winner-takes-all clash against Bristol at Headingley a week Saturday.

However, Leeds have endured yet another injury blow with news influential full-back Stevie McColl – who was called into Scotland’s training squad in November – could miss three months of action. He hurt his hand in the final stages of last week’s 15-14 Championship win at Plymouth and requires surgery that will keep him out for up to 12 weeks.

With Green receiving bad news too, it adds to Carnegie’s woe given they are already without Damien Tussac (foot), Scott Freer (neck), Jonah Holmes (hamstring) and Ryan Burrows (knee).

Director of Rugby Chris Gibson said: “This is a big blow for Stevie and Calum, who have been key parts of our good form so far this season.

“However, the important thing is that we get the surgery done immediately to give the guys the best chance of getting back playing as soon as possible.”

Peter Lucock

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