Leeds Rhinos news: Huge blow as TWO more players ruled out of Grand Final

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Coach Rohan Smith has confirmed Leeds Rhinos will be without two more players for Saturday’s Grand Final against St Helens.

Half-back Aidan Sezer will miss the final after suffering a head injury in last Friday’s semi-final win at Wigan Warriors.

Second-rower Morgan Gannon, who missed the semi-final because of concussion, has also been ruled out of the title decider.

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Rhinos had already confirmed centre Harry Newman will not play again this year, because of hamstring damage.

Aidan SAezer. Picture by Manuel Blondeau/SWpix.com.Aidan SAezer. Picture by Manuel Blondeau/SWpix.com.
Aidan SAezer. Picture by Manuel Blondeau/SWpix.com.

Sezer was Rhinos’ only casualty from the semi-final and wingers Ash Handley and David Fusitu’a both ran at training on Sunday, but are expected to miss out again.

Coach Rohan Smith said: “I had a conversation with our doctor yesterday [Saturday] who has been in conversation with the Super League chief medical officer and Aidan won’t be available this week.

“I believe the category one symptoms are the determining factor about being able to return to play, whether that’s in the game or the following week.”

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Sezer was hurt following a tackle by his former Canberra Raiders teammate John Bateman, who was sent-off and Smith admitted the Aussie is “shattered”.

Morgan Gannon was hurt during Rhinos' play-off win at Catalans. Picture by Manuel Blondeau/SWpix.com.Morgan Gannon was hurt during Rhinos' play-off win at Catalans. Picture by Manuel Blondeau/SWpix.com.
Morgan Gannon was hurt during Rhinos' play-off win at Catalans. Picture by Manuel Blondeau/SWpix.com.

He said: “The good news is he felt great going into the dressing rooms after he got replaced. He got through the post-game stuff without any symptoms or feeling bad, so that’s a positive.

“He feels clear-minded and healthy, that’s the main thing. He is clearly disappointed to be missing out, but such are the protocols in place to take care of our players long-term.”

Of losing a player to foul play, Smith said: “It’s part of the game. Sometimes people are going to wear the consequences of an accident.

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“I know those guys [Sezer and Bateman] played together in Canberra so I am sure there’s nothing untoward about it.

Ash Handley ran at training on Sunday. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.Ash Handley ran at training on Sunday. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.
Ash Handley ran at training on Sunday. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.

“It’s just one of those things, it’s sad and tough for Aidan but it’s the nature of sport. You have got to risk the tough times to enjoy the good times.

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“Aidan has played a big part in getting us to this opportunity. It has been a massive squad effort, we haven’t had a consistent team at any point.

“It’s something the team will handle well; for Aidan it is disappointing, but it is also an accident that happens in the game.”

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Gannon, 18, failed a head injury assessment during Rhinos’ win at Catalans Dragons in an elimination play-off, ruling him out of the semi-final.

He was expected to return on Saturday, but Smith said: “Morgan Gannon won’t be selected for this week.

“He has not undergone all the protocols so he wouldn’t be available, but he also wouldn’t be selected given he is such a young player, coming off such a significant situation.

“He is unavailable and wouldn’t have been selected due to his age. We are going for the long game with that kid.”

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Smith added: “It is not based purely on time. He has to be symptom-free for a period of time. He had symptoms for several days, at least, after the incident so we made the decision as a club we weren’t going to accelerate any return to play, given he’s 18 and it’s his second head knock of the season.”

The coach revealed Gannon will see a specialist and “that will provide us more information about where he’s at and his recovery.”

Of Handley (foot) and Fusitu’a (calf muscle), Smith said: “They have had a run this morning, but they are unlikely to be available.”

Newman, who has been sidelined for a month, was named in Rhinos’ initial squad to face Catalans, but did not feature and has now been ruled out of the Grand Final and England’s World Cup squad following surgery.

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“He has had a really tough season, with several injuries of a similar nature,” Smith said.

“It is certainly a setback for Harry, but he has handled the situation well as a young man. The latest one gives us a real opportunity in the next four-five months to understand the causation of the injuries and do a great rehab’.

“Some injuries are one-off situations and can be mended and you move on, but the recurring nature suggests there’s some other things that need to be looked into and that’ll be the case in the next couple of months.

“We’ll be taking a cautious and long-game approach. We’ll be doing everything we can to ensure he has a long and productive career.”