Concern for Leeds Rhinos as Stevie Ward is ruled out again

Captain Stevie Ward has still not recovered from concussion and will miss Leeds Rhinos’ game at Salford Red Devils on Saturday, coach Richard Agar has revealed.

Tuesday, 18th February 2020, 5:00 pm
Updated Tuesday, 18th February 2020, 8:44 pm
Stevie Ward makes a tackle agianst Hull. Picture by Tony Johnson.

Ward suffered a bad cut to his face in Rhinos’ Betfred Super League round one defeat by Hull on February 2.

He returned to the field after treatment, but began showing concussion symptoms following the game.

He wasn’t named in Rhinos’ initial squad for the postponed fixture at Huddersfield Giants a week later or last Friday’s 52-10 win over Hull KR.

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Alex Sutcliffe. Picture by Tony Johnson.

Agar had hoped he would be available this weekend, but confirmed: “There’s still symptoms so he has still not been cleared to start his return to play protocol.

“It means he won’t be cleared in time for Saturday.

“It is a little bit of a concern; he is feeling better, but we can’t start him until he is completely clear of symptoms, which he’s not.

“Even if his return to play protocols start [on Wednesday] that will not clear him in time for the game so he is out for this week.”

Vice-captain Rhyse Martin is expected to be available at Salford after missing the Hull KR game following minor surgery.

Alex Sutcliffe has had the cast removed from the hand he broke during last month’s training camp in Spain.

Liam Sutcliffe - who was alongside Alex Mellor were in the second-row against Hull KR - was taken off during the game after “tweaking” a knee, but Agar said he is “fine” and available for this weekend.

That ensures Agar has plenty of second-row options and the coach insisted: “We are pretty comfortable we will have two good players there.”

Alex Sutcliffe impressed on dual-registration for Featherstone Rovers last year and, though he may have to wait for an opportunity, Agar said the 21-year-old is in his plans for the current campaign.

“I would not hesitate to play him,” Agar stated of the centre/second-row.

“We have got a big rating on Alex and he is fit and in good condition.

“Even though he has had a pot on he has been doing plenty while he has been out, so I’d have no worries about playing him if a spot opened up for him.”