INJURY problems have continued to mount for struggling Super League champions Leeds Rhinos, but prop-forward Brad Singleton claims they are just part of the game.
Leeds achieved their first win of the year, against Huddersfield Giants three days ago, without eight players due to injury and one suspended.
Forward Mitch Garbutt has now completed a two-game ban and will be available for Friday’s trip to Wigan Warriors and Leeds’s management are hopeful long-term casualties Beau Falloon, the hooker who has yet to make a senior appearance following his move from Gold Coast Titans, and Jamie Jones-Buchanan could also feature.
Back-rower Jones-Buchanan has not played since suffering a quad injury in Leeds’s Challenge Cup semi-final win over St Helens eight months ago, but was 18th man last Friday.
However, centre Joel Moon suffered a hamstring problem against Huddersfield and winger Ash Handley – who has been filling in for ankle injury victim Tom Briscoe – limped off with a damaged kneecap.
With no other specialist wingers in their senior squad, Leeds could be forced to field players out of position or dip into their academy ranks this week.
That is far from ideal against a team who have won their opening four Super League games, but Singleton, who produced a man-of-the-match performance in the 20-16 victory over Huddersfield, insisted: “It’s just rugby league, it is a tough sport.
“People get injured, so we just have to crack on.
“One door closes if there’s a bit of an injury, but the door opens for someone else.
“It is an opportunity for someone to take with both hands and hopefully crack on.
“Recruitment has been great, so I think the standard will stay the same on the field.
“It is all hands on deck, but we’ve got one win now and we’ll be going all out for the next one.
“Wigan is a big game and we need a win there. We will have to tick every box we can this week.”
Falloon sustained a broken toe in training at the end of January, but is now out of a protective boot.
Rhinos’ chief executive Gary Hetherington said: “He is hoping to get the all-clear for Friday.
“Beau and Jamie Jones-Buchanan are both pretty close and could be cleared to play this week. From our full first-team squad, everybody who is fit is playing. There is nobody else.
“The 18th and 19th men last week were Jamie and (Under-19s prop) Sam Hallas, so we are now into our academy squad. That is fine, but it gives an indication of where we are at.”
Meanwhile, Singleton is confident the morale-boosting win over Huddersfield, which came after three defeats in Super League and a World Club Challenge loss to North Queensland Cowboys, has given Leeds something to build on.
They hit back strongly after trailing twice and Singleton said: “Hopefully that win is the start of something good and we can build some momentum now.
“We are just looking at each game.
“It is Wigan next, which is always a good game and we will be looking forward to it.”