Ash Handley 'raring to go' as Leeds Rhinos resume training ahead of Super League return

After four long, frustrating months, Leeds Rhinos will be back in training on Monday - 20 days before their Betfred Super League comeback against Huddersfield Giants.

Saturday, 11th July 2020, 6:00 am

The players did some fitness work last week after being tested for Covid-19.

From what he saw then, winger Ash Handley is confident Rhinos will have no problems physically, but admits it will take time to regain their feet as a unit.

“On the fitness side of things, everyone looks pretty much bang on - maybe fitter than we were before we left,” Handley said

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“I think that’s okay, it’s just gelling together as a team again because we have got a relatively new team and a lot of new faces still.

“We had just started gelling well together before the break so hopefully we can pick that straight back up.”

Rhinos have not played since a 66-12 win over Toronto Wolfpack on March 5.

They were due to visit Catalans Dragons eight days later, but that was postponed and all rugby league was suspended the following Monday.

Ash Handley has scored four tries in five games this year. Picture by Tony Johnson.

“I can’t wait,” Handley said of Monday’s first session. “It has been too long now.

“Lockdown was tough in some parts, but I think I’ve dealt with it quite well, I have kept myself in good shape and I’ve kept myself busy doing different things.

“I have had the odd couple of days, or week maybe, of struggling with it, but since we got a date to go back I have been raring to go and I am just ready for it.”

Easing of lockdown restrictions in recent weeks allowed some players to get together for informal fitness sessions which they organised themselves.

Rhinos' Tom Briscoe is tested for Covid-19 ahead of Rhinos' return to training. Picture by Phil Daly.

“A couple of us have done a bit of training here and there, just in little groups and socially distanced,” Handley confirmed.

“We had a couple of fitness things we could do so it was good to see a few people and train together again.”

While the return to training is a positive step, rugby league’s new normal will take some getting used to.

Players got their first taste earlier this week and Handley said: “It was fine, but a bit strange.

Ash Handley evades former teammate Tui Lolohea during Rhinos' win at Salford in February. Picture by Steve Riding

“Everyone’s in one by one and we’ve got to park 10 metres away from each other and things like that, but it all ran quite smoothly.

“We got our tests done and then we had groups of five or six doing a fitness test.

“We did a circle drill so no one was within five metres of each other and it worked out quite well.”

He added: “Before we got to this stage everyone was a bit naive, thinking we’d just go back to normal, but it’s all a new life now - everything’s going to be different for the foreseeable future so we’ve just got to get our heads around it and get it done.

“It might work out better; you are in and out - you can’t hang around. Normally we’d probably do five-, six-, or seven-hour days, but now you get out of your car, train and go home.“You can’t really do anything else so we don’t know how we are going to handle it yet.”

Revised Super League fixtures, initially due to be confirmed on Wednesday, have been delayed until the middle of next week.

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