Leeds Rhinos: McDermott over moon with centre’s recovery

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Leeds Rhinos are licking their wounds after a bruising first defeat of the season – but coach Brian McDermott has reported some good news.

Centre Joel Moon, who suffered a head injury in the first half of the 18-6 loss at Warrington Wolves, is expected to feature in Friday’s home clash with Wigan Warriors.

Joel Moon

Joel Moon

“He’s good, he should be available,” McDermott confirmed. “He passed his cog sport (concussion) test (yesterday). He will do something (today), he will train with us on Wednesday and he’ll be ready to go.”

The coach said Rhinos suffered several other concerns during the game four days ago.

“There are one or two niggles we are checking up on,” said McDermott, who will tomorrow name an initial 19-man squad to take on Wigan.

“Tommy Briscoe got a bang to his shoulder, Kylie Leuluai got a bang to his rib, Kev Sinfield has got some stuff in his hamstring, Rob Burrow has got a bit in his calf. There’s one or two bruises and bangs and pulls that we’ve got, but I am sure they’ll be right. We’ll give them a couple of days and see how they go.”

In-form second-rower Mitch Achurch, who missed the trip to HJ Stadium due to a knee injury, is making good progress, but unlikely to be fit to face Wigan, McDermott added.

“He is actually up and running at the moment, but only very limited stuff,” McDermott said. “I don’t think he’s going to be available this week. It could be anything up to another two or three weeks, but it’s a funny one. He is presenting a little bit better than what everything – the scans and the experts – is telling us. Hopefully he could be available next week, but there’s doubt on that as well.”

The injury was a setback to Achurch, who has had similar lay-offs in the past when he appeared to be establishing himself in the side. McDermott said: “It would have been hard to leave him out of the team, he has been very good. But he is in better nick, physically and where he’s at. He will ride this one, I am sure.”

Meanwhile, hooker Robbie Ward – last year’s Yorkshire Evening Post Shooting Star – suffered an ankle ligament sprain during the under-19s’ win at Bradford last week and could be sidelined for several weeks. McDermott said: “It depends what he does this week, how quickly they recover in the first week has a bearing on it.

“He has been in good shape and playing really well in the 19s, so hopefully that won’t be too long.”

McDermott will decide in the next 24 hours whether to include Zak Hardaker in his squad for Friday after he was left out of the Wolves game following an alleged off-the-field incident.