Leeds Rhinos without at least 10 players for huge Super League clash at Huddersfield Giants
Another name has been added to Leeds Rhinos’ seemingly endless casualty list, but loan signings have been ruled out at this stage.
Alex Sutcliffe is the latest player facing a layoff after damaging a knee in last Friday’s defeat at Hull KR.
Cameron Smith, who was ruled out of that game, is set for a long spell on the sidelines, but coach Richard Agar is hopeful Liam Sutcliffe will return against Huddersfield Giants on Sunday.
Agar said Alex Sutcliffe, the centre/second-rower who won the Yorkshire Evening Post’s Shooting Star award for the club’s most promising young player last season, has a brace on a knee and is “highly unlikely” to play this weekend.
Smith has a hamstring tendon injury and Agar revealed: “He will be probably eight weeks.”
Richie Myler will begin a two-match ban for questioning the integrity of the referee, Marcus Griffiths, during last Friday’s game, but the one piece of good news is Liam Sutcliffe’s expected comeback after a three-match absence with a knee problem.
“He has got to get through training, but he should, hopefully, be back in contention,” Agar said.
Five players returned against Hull KR, but with Alex Sutcliffe and Myler dropping out, at least 10 of the full-time squad will be unavailable on Sunday.
Agar said: “The biggest issue is the injuries to spine players: Jack Walker, Luke Gale has had two injuries, Callum McLelland’s not trained all year yet, Rob Lui’s was a big one.
“To compound that, both our best ball-playing middle players - Cam and Zane [Tetevano, who is suspended] are down, which takes away some subtlety from our middle.
“We are not ready to dip into the loan market, we have still got plenty of players, but at the moment our spine hasn’t been the same for two games.
“Losing Cam and Zane, for different reasons, is difficult to contend with and it affects training because it’s a bit harder to prepare when you haven’t got recognised pivots in your squad.”
Reflecting on the loss in Hull, Agar added: “I will say, our effort in the first four games was great.
“We won one and lost three, narrowly and I think that type of effort will always put us in a game.
“What was disappointing for me [about last Friday] was we were so flat.
“We felt it in training early doors and we did our utmost to try and get around it, but all the signs were there for us in the first 10-15 minutes.
“Even at half-time we still felt we had a chance, but we had something like 14 errors, 11 penalties, six six-agains and you are not going to give yourselves a chance of beating anyone with that.
“Our application, concentration and desire to defend wasn’t good enough.”
Rhinos reviewed the game on Monday and Agar insisted: “The boys have been good. It was tough to watch, a very uncomfortable review, particularly for certain individuals in our team, but we have got to hold each other accountable and make sure we don’t see those performances often.
“Hull KR played well, but from our point of view it was way off where we’ve been. The energy and application wasn’t there so we’ve got to get that right this week. We have got some rejigging to do again this week, with Richie down, but we’ll work out who we’ve got and work around that.”
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