Leeds Rhinos: Grafter Ablett’s working overtime to make cup-tie selection

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AFTER TWO games on the sidelines, Carl Ablett is “doing everything I can” to be available for Leeds Rhinos’ Ladbrokes Challenge Cup quarter-final against Leigh Centurions on Friday.

Ablett suffered an ankle injury in the round-six win at Widnes Vikings and sat out the subsequent Betfred Super League losses to Castleford Tigers and Catalans Dragons, despite being named in Rhinos’ initial 19-man squad both times.

Leeds Rhinos second-row Carl Ablett in recent action against Wigan. PIC: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com

Leeds Rhinos second-row Carl Ablett in recent action against Wigan. PIC: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com

He was one of 10 players unavailable for the game in Perpignan four days ago, but said there is “a chance” he could be back on the field this week.

“It has been slow since Widnes, I’ve not really been able to get it right,” said Ablett of his injury setback.

“I had some decent treatment over the weekend and I am doing everything I can now to try and be fit.

“I did a little bit of running [yesterday], but I’ll have to see how I react and pull up [today].

Leeds Rhinos head coach Brian McDermott and chief executive Gary Hetherington. PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe

Leeds Rhinos head coach Brian McDermott and chief executive Gary Hetherington. PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe

“Hopefully I’ll get another session in on Thursday and, fingers crossed, I’ll be ready to go.”

Describing the injury, Ablett said: “It was a bit of a roll on the ankle, then as I started to roll somebody’s stood on my foot and over-extended all those ligaments in there.

“It caused a bit of a fusion in the ankle and I’ve not been able to get rid of it, but we managed to do a good job over the weekend and I feel much better this week, so I have a chance.”

Ablett has suffered a series of injury blows on Halton Stadium’s artificial pitch. He added: “The last three times I’ve played there have not been great, but it is what it is.

“The pitch is what it is and injuries can happen. It has been a challenge the last couple of weeks, not being able to be out there with the lads and help them out, but hopefully I’ll be right this week and I can try and contribute.”

Rhinos are on a three-game losing run in Betfred Super League and Ablett said that has added to his frustration, but he insisted it would be pointless returning if not fully recovered.

“It’s tough when you’re injured and you’re going through this stuff,” he said.

“I think I am wise enough to know that if you’re not able to be fit there’s no point getting on the field. You can do more harm than good sometimes, so I want to make sure I can contribute.

“I don’t want to go out there and just get by. I want to contribute.

“As many experienced players as we can get back on the field is going to be a big help, but I am sure come Friday we will have a 17 that’s committed and ready to go.”

Ablett is in the final year of his Rhinos contract, but – as reported by the Yorkshire Evening Post two weeks ago – has yet to make a decision on his future.

The 32-year-old second-rower said he was unaware of reported interest from Hull Kingston Rovers and stressed: “There’s nothing done yet, it’s all rumours.

“It’s that time of year when people talk.

“I’ve not really spoken to Gary [Hetherington, Rhinos’ chief executive] again yet so there’s nothing been sorted.”

Rhinos coach Brian McDermott was today due to name his initial squad for Friday’s tie, to be played at Featherstone Rovers’ LD Nutrition Stadium.

Captain Kallum Watkins, who suffered a season-ending knee injury against Castleford Tigers 11 days ago, is due to undergo surgery next Wednesday.