Castleford Tigers v Leeds Rhinos: Teens ready to fill Rhinos’ injury gaps

MOUNTING INJURY concerns could mean a call-up for two 17 year olds when Leeds Rhinos visit Castleford Tigers tomorrow.

By Peter Smith
Sunday, 17th April 2022, 4:52 pm
Updated Sunday, 17th April 2022, 4:54 pm

Half-back Jack Sinfield, son of club legend Kevin Sinfield, has been drafted into Rhinos’ initial 21-man squad for the first time, joining centre Max Simpson in contention for tomorrow afternoon’s derby.

Interim-coach Jones-Buchanan appeared to rule out an imminent call-up for Sinfield following the draw against Huddersfield Giants four days ago but, with Jack Walker and Liam Tindall the latest injury victims and Levi Edwards on loan at York City Knights, all Rhinos’ senior backs are either included in tomorrow’s initial squad or on the casualty list. Tigers coach Lee Radford has said he doesn’t expect Sinfield to play tomorrow afternoon, but Jones-Buchanan insisted he has “a chance”.

He revealed: “We’ve got a few lads with a few knocks.

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Seventeen-year-old centre Max Simpson has been included in Leeds Rhinos' 21-man squad for the Easter Monday game at Castleford Tigers. Picture: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com.

“We will give them right up until the last minute, but I think Jack has been ready for a while, between the ears and under his chest.”

Kevin Sinfield captained Rhinos to seven Super League titles and also had a spell as director of rugby.

“He has got a bit of growing and development to do but, as young as he is, he is a great influence to have around the team because he is very much the image of his dad when it comes to standards,” Jones-Buchanan added of Jack.

“The more he can experience being around the boys, with a chance of getting in, that is really positive.

Leeds Rhinos interim-coach Jamie Jones-Buchanan. Picture: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com.

“We have got to get a last-minute read on a couple, but there’s a chance.”

Simpson has been included in Rhinos’ initial squad several times this year without yet making the 17 but, with full-back Walker (hamstring) and winger Tindall (hip) having been hurt against Huddersfield, he is also in Jones-Buchanan’s thinking for tomorrow.

“He is only 17, but he is a specimen,” Jones-Buchanan said.

“He stands out, he has worked really hard and he was a big part of the academy’s win a few days ago.

“He played at Featherstone in the off-season and banged a few. I couldn’t believe how good he was. He and Jack are two boys who I want, without damaging them, to fast-track into the first team.

“They are exactly the type of people we want in the Leeds team and now’s the time to start pinging them into the mix.”

Rhinos were seconds away from picking up a rare win last Thursday, but Giants scored back-to-back tries to send the game into what proved to be a scoreless 10 minutes of extra-time.

“We’ve been building every week in training and in games,” Jones-Buchanan said.

“People think sometimes you can give a big rallying cry and everyone will get up for it, but we have had to redefine some of our language, our plays and our philosophies and that is going to take some time.

“I think you could see our progression against Huddersfield and we are looking to build on that.

“We are going in the right direction and I am confident these boys will have some joy in the not too distant future.”