Leeds Rhinos: Handley’s swift return is proving bonus for Rhinos

Ash Handley, scoring the opening try in Leeds' cup win over Doncaster. PIC: Bruce Rollinson
Ash Handley, scoring the opening try in Leeds' cup win over Doncaster. PIC: Bruce Rollinson
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RAPID POWERS of recovery have fuelled winger Ash Handley’s Leeds Rhinos return.

Handley – who has played in Rhinos’ last two matches and is included in the squad for tomorrow’s visit of Huddersfield Giants – was recalled to the team just 15 days after being told he could be out of action for up to six weeks.

Ash Handley

Ash Handley

He suffered knee damage playing on dual-registration for Featherstone Rovers, but made a surprise comeback when Rhinos beat Widnes Vikings on Easter Monday and retained his place against Doncaster four days later.

“It’s good to be back playing,” said the 21-year-old Oulton Raiders product.

“I had a bit of a setback with my mcl (medial cruciate ligement) injury, but I got over that pretty quickly.

“It was meant to be a four-to-six-week injury, but I managed to be quite disciplined with wearing the brace and it fixed up quite well and quite quickly.

“It was good to get back in the Widnes game. I did the injury against Dewsbury two weeks before so I came back a lot quicker than I thought – I only really had a week off so it wasn’t that bad.”

Handley’s speedy recovery was a bonus for Rhinos, who have been hit by a spate of injuries in the outside-backs.

Full-back Ashton Golding and Liam Sutcliffe, who can play at full-back and centre, have missed the last two games and centre Jimmy Keinhorst and Carl Ablett, a back-rower who can cover the three-quarters, are on the long-term casualty list.

Tom Briscoe has been struggling with a dead leg and was rested for last Friday’s Ladbrokes Challenge Cup win over Doncaster and Leeds will be without fellow winger Ryan Hall and centre Kallum Watkins for the game at Catalans Dragons a week on Saturday, when they are on England duty.

Handley played at full-back against Widnes and as a winger in the Cup-tie and said: “There’s a lot of injuries at the moment in the backs and I’m just happy to fill in where I can.

“I will play full-back, centre or wing – I don’t mind playing anywhere in the backs.”

The injuries and international calls could give Handley a run in the team. He admitted: “That’s what I’ve been pushing for since the start of the season.

“I have been going quite well for Fev. I hit a bit of a speed bump with my injury and I just need to get back to full fitness.

“I don’t think I am there yet – I have got a bit of a groin issue as well which I am dealing with, but I just need to get myself back fit and playing how I can and, hopefully, I can get a shot at a position.”

Handley scored 13 tries in 20 games in 2015 and five from 21 appearances last term. Before last week, his only call-up this year was in the 66-10 defeat at Castleford Tigers in March and he has spent the rest of the campaign at Featherstone.

He admitted it has been “a bit frustrating” having to bide his time, but he stressed: “The lads have been playing well, other than a few games.

“Everyone is playing well, it’s like back to the 2015 team now. It is healthy with the competition for places.

“Hopefully, if I get a chance and a little run, I can show that I am good enough.

“I am fit to play. It is not a big deal, the injury, it’s just one of those I have got to deal with and play with.”

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