Leeds Rhinos: Kevin Sinfield explains why Super League clash at Salford Red Devils should be moved to Sunday

Leeds Rhinos director of rugby Kevin Sinfield has called for Friday’s game at Salford Red Devils to be put back two days to Sunday.

Tuesday, 22nd June 2021, 12:50 pm
Ash Handley, left and Luke Gale are both on England duty on Friday night. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.
Ash Handley, left and Luke Gale are both on England duty on Friday night. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.

As previously reported by the Evening Post, Rhinos are struggling to raise a team because of call-ups to the England versus Combined Nations All Stars game the same evening, plus injuries and their recent coronavirus outbreak.

With five players on international duty, Rhinos could request a postponement, but having had successive games already called off, due to Covid, they are keen to play this weekend.

Five of Leeds’ Covid victims will have completed their return to play protocol by Sunday and players would also be able to back up from the England match.

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Sinfield stressed Rhinos fully support international rugby league, but insisted: “These are extraordinary times and I think there needs to be a degree of common sense to make sure that everyone can achieve the outcome they want.”

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Leeds Rhinos and Salford match ‘may move to Sunday’ to help cope with internatio...

Salford are understood to be keen to play on Friday and reluctant to move the fixture.

Explaining Leeds' situation, Sinfield said: “We have had eight players who last week tested positive for Covid-19.

“The RFL guidelines strictly control how each of those players can become available to play.

“Two of the eight will be cleared next week, if they show no side effects; another five would only be available if this week’s game was played on Sunday.

“Without the Covid outbreak last week, we were prepared to play this Friday as scheduled at Salford, even without our five ‘international’ call ups.

“Unfortunately, as the away club we have had no control over when this fixture was allowed to be played.

“Perhaps this is something Super League and the RFL can work closer on if mid-season internationals are to continue.”

Sinfield added: “RFL regulations allow a team to ask for a postponement if four or more players are called up for international matches.

“We do not want to add another rearranged fixture to the calendar and add more burden to the players of both clubs in an already compacted season and would prefer to move the fixture to Sunday and have made that clear to the RFL.

“I have a great deal of sympathy with Salford, who have done so much work to make sure fans can be back inside the AJ Bell Stadium on Friday and, through no fault of their own, have a question mark hanging over the fixture.

“Ourselves and Salford play our next Super League fixture on Thursday so there is an added pressure there too, however I sincerely hope that an agreement can be made that means this fixture can still go ahead this weekend.”

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