Leeds Rhinos' Ash Handley recovering from knee injury but still faces race against time to be fit for visit of Super League leaders St Helens

Leeds Rhinos winger Ash Handley says his injured knee is on the mend, but he remains in doubt for Friday’s visit of St Helens - if the game goes ahead.

By Peter Smith
Wednesday, 9th June 2021, 4:45 am

Handley missed Rhinos’ first four fixtures this year after suffering medial collateral ligament (mcl) damage in a pre-season game at Huddersfield Giants.

He returned to the side at the end of April, but sat out Rhinos’ big win at Castleford Tigers two weeks ago because of a problem with the same knee.

He could be in contention for Friday, but the game is in doubt following a coronavirus scare.

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Ash Handley, left, with Rhinos captain Luke Gale, Picture by Bruce Rollinson.

A decision was due to be made today, once the result of a PCR test on a Rhinos player is known.

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Leeds Rhinos v St Helens game in doubt - decision due on Wednesday over coronavi...

“It’s my mcl again,” Handley confirmed of his injury.

“It’s the same knee, but not as bad.

Ash Handley's only try of the season so far came in Rhinos' defeat at Huddersfield last month. Picture by Ed Sykes/SWpix.com.

“I did it with two minutes to go in the game against Hull [on May 23].”

Handley added: “It is getting there, I am just taking each day as it comes.

“I just want it to be fully right before I start playing again.

“I need to tick a few boxes to make sure I am right.”

The injury will not require surgery, but Handley reported: “It just needs strengthening back up.

“Everything around it has got pretty weak, my quad muscles and calf.

“It just takes time.”

Handley was top try scorer in Betfred Super League last year and his injury has been a setback for the team and his hopes of being selected in England’s World Cup squad.

“Obviously I haven’t really got a good run of games in yet,” he admitted.

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“I just want to get myself 100 per cent fit before I come back in, then get back to playing how I know I can.”

Handley made his comeback against Hull KR at full-back before reverting to wing and has scored one try so far this term.

Of his form when he has been in the side, Handley said: “I can’t get any rhythm, to be honest.

“The first few games, I was just feeling my knee out and then the third one I have done it again.

“I can’t really get a chance at the minute to perform well, so I just want to get myself right.”

The World Cup is scheduled to begin on October 23, when England play Samoa in Newcastle.

“You have to play well for your club,” Handley said of his hopes of international selection.

“That’s what I am focusing on first and then hopefully that takes care of itself.

“I need to play well for Leeds, that’s how I got in the [England squad] in the first place.

“I need to get back in the team, get back fit and playing well and hopefully I can be in the squad for the end of the year.”

Handley has a good record against Saints and it would be a boost for Rhinos if he did return this week.

“I like playing against Saints,” he said.

“They are one of the best teams and I like to challenge myself.

“Hopefully I can be fit and get on the pitch.”

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