Leeds Rhinos will make most of Storm Ciara disruption says wing ace Ash Handley

Leeds Rhinos are taking the positives out of their unwanted early-season break, winger Ash Handley says.

Tuesday, 11th February 2020, 6:00 am
Ash Handley scores agianst Hull. Picture by Tony Johnson.

Handley scored the only try of Rhinos’ campaign so far, in the second half of their 30-4 defeat by Hull in Betfred Super League round one.

Rhinos’ hopes of getting back on the horse a week later were dashed when their game at Huddersfield Giants was postponed due to the effects of Storm Ciara.

That has left them needing to fit a rearranged fixture into an already packed schedule which, at this stage, does not include a free weekend.

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Konrad Hurrell has extra time to prepare after a head knock in the loss to Hull. Picture by Tony Johnson.

But it has also given them extra time to prepare for Friday’s visit of Hull KR, rather than the planned five-day turnaround.

Rhinos’ players had been getting ready for Sunday’s game when it was called off around three and a half hours before kick-off time and Handley admitted: “It was a bit weird.

“Obviously conditions were pretty shocking with the storm and everything, but it’s not the end of the world.

“It is a good job we have got a game coming up on Friday, hopefully that one will be on and we’ll be ready to go.”

The pitch at John Smith’s Stadium was playable, but - with an amber weather warning in force - concerns for fans’ safety led to the match being postponed.

Handley said the players understood and backed the decision not to go ahead.

“It sort of cleared up around the time of kick off, I thought, but it’s not about the game as such,” he stated.

“It’s about people getting there and fans’ safety.

“You can’t take the risk if there’s 4-5,000 people travelling. Safety precautions have to be done. It’s just one of those things.”

Handley stressed Rhinos were keen to play after their round one disappointment.

“We had a good week in training,” he added.

“Everyone was psyched up and ready to go and put things right, but obviously it is out of our control what happened.

“We are just looking ahead, we can’t do anything about that now and we are just looking forward to this week.”

Rather than a Sunday to Friday turnaround, the game against Hull KR will be Rhinos’ first for 12 days.

“It would have been rest on Monday, day off and only one proper day’s training before the game,” Handley pointed out.

“That’s a bit of a positive, we can have a fresh week.

“A few of the lads were struggling a bit so everyone will be a lot fresher this week and ready to go.”

Rovers began their season with a 30-12 win over Wakefield Trinity before losing 25-16 at Hull last Friday.

“You need to have a good start to the season to get a feel for it and that’s what we are wanting,” Handley said.

“All our focus will be on a good week’s prep’ and getting stuck into Hull KR on Friday.”

“Everyone was up for the Hull game and I don’t really know what went wrong.

“It was one of those where everyone was psyched up and it just didn’t go our way and the scoreboard got away from us a bit, but I am confident we will turn it around.

“Everyone is, it is early days and one game isn’t going to make or break the season.

“We are looking forward as we do after every performance and hopefully we’ll put a better show on against Hull KR.”

On another day Handley’s lone try against Hull could have been a hat-trick after he was close to scoring on two other occasions.

He admitted: “I was quite disappointed with myself, to be honest.

“I think I should be getting those tries. The last one was a difficult one, it was 50-50 and the conditions were awful as well.

“Maybe on a dry day I do get that down, but it’s the ref’s decision.

“A lot of things didn’t really go our way.”