Leeds Rhinos comment : Why the decision to postpone Salford Red Devils game for two days was right and unavoidable

Salford Red Devils fans aren’t happy about their game against Leeds Rhinos, originally scheduled for tonight, being put back two days and that’s understandable.

Friday, 25th June 2021, 4:45 pm
Kruise Leeming, left and Luke Gale are two of five Rhinos players on international duty. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.
Kruise Leeming, left and Luke Gale are two of five Rhinos players on international duty. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.

For anyone with a ticket, it’s inconvenient and especially annoying if the 1pm Sunday kick-off time clashes with work or another commitment. It’s also tough for Salford’s players and coaches, who - like Rhinos - have another game just four days later.

Last year, injury-hit Salford failed to fulfill a fixture against Warrington Wolves and were fined £16,000, with a 24-0 win being awarded to their opponents. For the conspiracy theorists, the decision to move the game to Sunday, therefore avoiding a clash with tonight’s mid-season international, is more evidence of so-called big clubs, Leeds in particular, getting things all their own way.

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Zane Tetevano will miss Sunday's game because of Covid. Picture by Steve Riding.

Yes, Rhinos do have academy teams, but the players from those age groups who are up to it are already in the senior squad. The rest are not physically ready. Throwing 16- or 17-year-old rookies in against seasoned top-flight players would be irresponsible and Leeds are right not to do it.

Yes, Rhinos did field second-string sides before and after big Cup ties last year, but those youngsters, were, had been or are now in full-time training.

Leeds haven’t ducked out of tonight because of injuries - at times this year they’ve been without a dozen or so players for that reason and have played. They have not broken or bent any rules; RFL operational laws say teams can request a postponement if they have four of more players on international duty. In similar situations in the past, Rhinos have played.

Rhinos could have pulled players out of the All Stars team, but that wouldn't have been fair on them, coach Tim Sheens or England, who needed to face the strongest-possible opposition. Leeds have done what they are entitled to. The fault in fact lies with Super League who arranged a round of fixtures for the same weekend as an international.

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