Rhinos, who sat seventh with two games still to play, were just two points outside the play-off places, with six points up for grabs.
The three teams above them – Strathclyde Sirens, Wasps and Saracens – have only one game remaining and could do no better than reach 35 points, whereas Leeds could still earn 36 points with wins from two games they would be favoured to win.
However, their final two games this coming weekend have been postponed due to one of their players returning a positive Covid test.
Due to league rules, they are awarded the points from their final two games because they had already beaten those opponents – eighth-placed London Pulse and bottom side Celtic Dragons – earlier this season.
That takes them above Strathclyde, Wasps and Saracens into fourth place and secures a play-off semi-final on Saturday, June 26.
A statement from the league reads: “The Vitality Netball Superleague (VNSL) rescheduling competition committee have agreed, as part of the league’s ‘postponements, rreschedules and cancellations’ process in place this season, that the team’s two remaining fixtures of the competition will be declared as cancelled and that Leeds Rhinos will be awarded the points for both games.
“The decision was made because of a predetermined rule in place which states that where matches are cancelled because of a positive Covid-19 case, the result of the previous fixture in the season will be applied.”
Rhinos last assembled for a training session on Wednesday, June 9, after which the positive Covid test was returned, meaning that person must isolate for 10 days. But because Superleague squads train and play indoors, all players and staff are considered to be close contacts of the individual who tested positive.
The statement continued: “Once out of the 10-day isolation period (in this case June 19), the squad have a ‘Return to Play’ period of five days which has been put in place this season to protect athlete welfare and ensure that players are fit to take to court after a period of isolation.”
Head coach Dan Ryan tweeted: “Not how we wanted or envisaged the story to unfold at all!
“But we’re so grateful and proud to have qualified for finals in our inaugural season.
“After isolation is done, it will be a very quick build up to finals, but like always, we will give this opportunity everything we’ve got!”