Knee injury rules out Leeds Rhinos winger Ash Handley for six weeks
LEEDS RHINOS’ Ash Handley is out for six weeks but boss Richard Agar says the winger’s remarkable fitness levels will serve him well in his recovery from a knee injury.
Handley, Super League’s top scorer last season, was injured in Sunday’s pre-season friendly with Huddersfield Giants.
Scans have confirmed the 25 year-old - who is in Shaun Wane’s England squad - has damaged medial ligaments and will now miss the opening rounds of the new campaign which starts against Wakefield Trinity on Saturday week.
Agar said: “Ash has been absolutely flying in pre-season.
“He’s highly motivated for the World Cup at the end of the year and it is a big blow to us.
“But he’s in very good shape. Ash is our fittest player, undoubtedly; when you look at the workload, what he does in a game, you’ve got to be fit to do that amount of work.
“That is hopefully going to help him on his recovery and I know Ash will do everything right - eating, sleeping, ticking every box - when he gets the brace off his leg.
“Fingers crossed we can hit all our targets in rehab and get him back early. It is a blow and not something we needed at this stage of the year but that’s what your squad is for.”
Leeds are already without full-back Jack Walker and stand-off Robert Lui and have captain Luke Gale and half-back Callum McLelland battling to be fit for the kick-off.
Given Walker’s injury, Rhinos were contemplating switching Handley to full-back but it is more likely Richie Myler will play there now, as the England scrum-half did for much of last year.
Luke Briscoe is most likely to come in on the wing and Agar said: “Ideally everyone wants to come out of the blocks round one. That’s not going to be the case for us but we’ve every confidence in our squad.”
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