Leeds Rhinos captain Luke Gale will be fit for derby opener with Wakefield Trinity

Leeds captain Luke Gale is set to lead the Rhinos out for the opening game of the Betfred Super League season after recovering from a torn pectoral muscle.

Recovered: Leeds Rhinos captain Luke Gale. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com
Recovered: Leeds Rhinos captain Luke Gale. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com

The former Castleford scrum-half sustained the injury in a freak accident on the first day of pre-season in early January and would have missed the first two rounds had the season not been put back.

Gale is now back in training and has set his sights on the game against Wakefield at Headingley a fortnight on Saturday.

“The injury has all gone to plan,” he told the PA news agency. “There’s a couple of things I need to check on, but I think I’ll be right for round one.

“The lads joked that they put the season back for me, but it has gone perfect really. I didn’t really want to miss a game so it was great that it got delayed by a couple of weeks.”

Gale suffered the injury during a bench press in the gym.

“It was probably a weight that was too heavy for me and the pec went,” he explained.

“It was a freak accident, but it came at the right time. I’m lucky not to miss a game. I kept up my leg work and I’ve just started back in training, though I haven’t done any contact yet.”

The 32-year-old will have a new half-back partner in Kyle Eastmond, the dual-code international who joined Leeds a week ago and will help fill the void created by injury to Robert Lui.

“He’s looking really sharp,” said Gale, who played alongside Eastmond for England Under-18s. “He’s a great addition to the side. I think he will fit seamlessly back into rugby league.”

Gale, who was in the England team that lost to Australia in the 2017 World Cup final, has targeted a return to the national team under new coach Shaun Wane for this year’s tournament.

“It will be my last chance of playing in another World Cup and it’s a goal I definitely want,” he said.

“I’ll be doing all I can to get into Waney’s plans come October. It’s been tough because we haven’t had any camps, but all the England boys catch up on zoom and watch a bit of video and clips of what he expects.”

Gale is hoping the arrival of former St Helens and Great Britain scrum-half Sean Long as the Rhinos’ new assistant coach can help him reach his goal.

“I’ve not done as much as I’d like with him, having gone down in day one of pre-season, but I’m starting to work with him now,” he said.

“He’s got a great rugby league brain and I want to tap in to that. I love the way he played, he’s a great tutor to have.”

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