Leeds Rhinos and Salford match ‘may move to Sunday’ to help cope with international demands
SWITCHING THIS weekend’s game at Salford Red Devils from Friday to Sunday could be a possible solution to Leeds Rhinos’ selection crisis.
Already badly hit by injuries and illness, Rhinos are set to face Salford without Ash Handley Luke Gale and Mikolaj Oledzki, who have been named in England’s 19-man squad to take on Combined Nations All Stars on Friday evening.
The All Stars squad announcement, originally due yesterday afternoon, was delayed until today, but the Evening Post understands Matt Prior and Kruise Leeming, an England Knights player, were set to be included.
Rhinos coach Richard Agar last week admitted he was not sure how he would be able to raise a side for Friday if he lost players to the international match along with those already on the injury list or ruled out because of Covid.
Putting Rhinos’ game back to Sunday – a move Salford would have to agree to – could potentially allow players involved in the England against All Stars match to back up, though that would raise questions over player welfare –particularly with Leeds due to play Leigh Centurions the following Thursday.
RFL officials held talks with clubs yesterday over the release of players to All Stars squad.
An RFL spokesman said: “Confirmation of the All Stars squad is regrettably, but unavoidably, delayed until [this] morning. This is to allow team management additional time this evening to finalise arrangements.”
Handley, Oledzki and Castleford Tigers’ Paul McShane are among six uncapped players in England’s squad, which has been reduced from 24 players.
The others are Catalans Dragons’ Tom Davies, Morgan Knowles of St Helens and Warrington Wolves’ Joe Philbin.
McShane will miss Tigers’ visit of Catalans on Thursday and Wakefield Trinity will be without Reece Lyne and Joe Westerman when they play host to Wigan Warriors the same evening.
Players dropped from the 24-man squad which coach Shaun Wane named last week are free-agent George Williams, Warrington’s Toby King, Jermaine McGillvary and Jake Wardle of Huddersfield Giants and Salford’s Dan Sarginson.
Sarginson has been suspended for three matches after the RFL’s match review panel charged him with a grade C high tackle in last Friday’s win at Huddersfield.
Team-mate James Greenwood was mistakenly sent-off for the incident, but the review panel rescinded his red card.
Salford’s Greg Burke received a one-game penalty notice for a grade B high tackle in the same game, also ruling him out of the meeting with Rhinos.
Wigan’s former Leeds forward Brad Singleton will miss two games, including this week’s trip to Wakefield, after being charged with a grade C butt against Hull KR last weekend.
Former Castleford and England half-back Rangi Chase has joined Rochdale Hornets for the rest of the season
England’s 19-man squad to play the Combined nations All Stars is: John Bateman (Wigan Warriors), Daryl Clark, Mike Cooper, Ben Currie (all Warrington Wolves), Tom Davies (Catalans Dragons), Liam Farrell (Wigan), Luke Gale, Ash Handley (both Leeds Rhinos) Morgan Knowles (St Helens), Reece Lyne (Wakefield Trinity), Jonny Lomax (St Helens), Paul McShane (Castleford Tigers), Tommy Makinson (St Helens), Mikolaj Oledzki (Leeds), Joe Philbin, Stefan Ratchford (both Warrington), Sam Tomkins (Catalans), Alex Walmsley (St Helens), Joe Westerman (Wakefield).