BRINGING IN ex-Wigan prop Dom Crosby will give Leeds Rhinos a lift for tonight’s must-win home clash with Widnes Vikings, rugby boss Kevin Sinfield says.
Crosby is set to make his debut after joining Rhinos from Warrington Wolves on a loan deal until the end of the season.
Rhinos will be confirmed in the middle-eights Qualifiers if they lose tonight or Huddersfield Giants, Catalans Dragons and Wakefield Trinity all win this weekend.
“I’ve been really keen to add a couple of players to the squad,” Sinfield said.
“I think freshening it up will give us a boost and I haven’t mentioned injuries since I got back to the club, but that’s certainly a factor.
“There’s no internal competition at the moment, pretty much if you are fit you’ll play.
“I do think the answer’s in our dressing room, but a couple of recruits would make a difference and myself and Gary [Hetherington, Rhinos’ chief executive] have been working hard since the Cas game.”
Strengthening the squad at this time in the season is a struggle, Sinfield admitted.
“There are some factors in bringing people in,” he added. “One is the nature of the Super League competition, everyone’s fighting for something.
“Secondly, other clubs are quite happy to see us where we are and thirdly, looking overseas, you have to look at how quickly you can get visas and get them into this country.
I’ve been really keen to add a couple of players to the squad. I think freshening it up will give us a boost.Kevin Sinfield
“Also, you have to ask why players are available at this time of year and you have to make sure who you’re bringing in is better than who you’ve got, otherwise what’s the point?”
Crosby may not be Rhinos’ final recruit before the 2018 transfer deadline next Friday, but there have been no developments on their rumoured interest in their former Leeds hooker Paul Aiton.
Sinfield said: “The search will continue until the deadline and past that it will continue for next year.
“There’s some room to manoeuvre, but they have to fit – fit the environment and be good people as well as good rugby players – and add to us in positions we are light.”
Brett Ferres has joined Leeds’ casualty list with a knee fracture suffered in last Friday’s draw with Wakefield Trinity. Sinfield said: “It’s a shame, certainly in the last two weeks, since I’ve been involved, he has been one of our best players. We will miss him, but it’s up to somebody else to put their hand up.”
Rhinos haven’t won in nine Betfred Super League games and are ninth in the table with two rounds remaining in the regular season.
“The boys realise where we are,” Sinfield said. “Last week it was really important to get a response [after the 42-10 defeat at Castleford] and it showed to me that the players care.
“They want us to get out of this predicament and we have had another week together.
“Widnes need a result as well, but I think there’s a bit more desperation and fight about us due to Widnes being confirmed in the middle-eights. It is a big game for us and we need to win, but the big thing for us is to concentrate on performance.
“It’s a cliche, but the result will take care of itself. I want us to play with some freedom and enjoy the game.
“We have turned a corner and we are starting to see some signs of stuff we’ve worked on. Hopefully we’ll get what we deserve this week.”
Meanwhile, Rhinos forwards Josh Jordan-Roberts and Jack Ormondroyd have joined Betfred League One promotion contenders York City Knights.
Jordan-Roberts, 19, who had been on loan at Hunslet, has signed a contract until the end of next season after making one substitute appearance for Leeds in each of the past two seasons. He had a spell on loan at Bradford Bulls last term.
Ormondroyd, 26, has made 14 first team appearances - eight of them this year - since joining Rhinos in 2017 and will spend the rest of the season on loan at York.
He had been playing on dual-registration with his former club Featherstone Rovers when not featuring for Leeds.