Leeds Rhinos boss maintains half-back mystery - but Wakefield Trinity will be near full-strength for Super League opener
Leeds Rhinos coach Richard Agar says star half-backs Kyle Eastmond and Luke Gale are “close” to being available, but he won't reveal beforehand if either will feature against Wakefield Trinity in Betfred Super League round one on Saturday.
Former St Helens pivot Eastmond signed for Rhinos earlier this month, following a decade in rugby union, but has not played since last summer.
Gale, Rhinos’ captain, suffered a pectoral muscle injury - which has a 12-week recovery period - in the first pre-season training session, on January 4.
Two half-backs, Rob Lui and Callum McLelland, are on the long-term injury list, but Agar - who will name an initial 21-man squad today - insisted he won’t take chances with either Eastmond or Gale.
“We won’t leave him out if he’s ready to play, but if we don’t feel he’s ready, we won’t take any risks,” he said of Eastmond.
“We will work that out and we are heading in the right direction with him; whether it’s this week, next week or the week after it is good for the game to have such a talented player returning from rugby union.”
Monday will be 12 weeks since Gale’s injury. He has been able to run throughout his recovery and Agar added: “Luke is pretty fit anyway.
“He just needs everything ticking off from the surgeon to make sure there are no last minute worries on his part.”
Agar confirmed young centre Jack Broadbent will be named in Rhinos’ squad after impressing in the pre-season game against Huddersfield Giants two weeks ago.
The 20-year-old made three Super League appearances last year, twice as a stand-off and had a spell at full-back against Giants after Ash Handley was injured.
Trinity coach Chris Chester said his side have several players with soft tissue injuries, but are “not far away from our strongest team, barring a couple of guys who have had minor surgery over the last four weeks”.
Winger Tom Johnstone, because of a slight Achilles problem and prop Dave Fifita, whose son was ill, missed Trinity’s trial game against Dewsbury Rams but Chester said: “Both was a precaution, both will play.”
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