OPPONENTS LONDON Broncos’ plastic pitch holds no fears for Leeds Rhinos forward Carl Ablett.
The second-rower was one of three Leeds players, along with Ashton Golding and Tom Briscoe, to suffer an ankle injury when Leeds were crushed 56-12 on Widnes Vikings’ artificial surface six months ago.
The injuries happened during a 15-minute spell in the first half and that heavy defeat set the tone for Rhinos’ disappointing first half of the season.
The game at Ealing Trailfinders on Saturday, in the First Utility Qualifiers, will be the first time Rhinos have played on a synthetic pitch since that disastrous afternoon in Cheshire, but Ablett insisted it is not a concern.
“We had three quite serious ankle injuries in that game, but I don’t know if that was anything to do with the pitch,” Ablett said.
“Sometimes things just happen like that and you get a few injuries in a game. All the lads who got injured that day have done some decent recovery and as players you can’t worry about the surface or things like that.
“I’ve never been to Ealing and I don’t know what state the 3g pitch is going to be in, but we’ve got a 4g at Kirkstall and we’ve done a session on there already.
“Probably most of our week will be on there so we will get chance to adapt to it. There can’t be any excuses come Saturday, we have got a similar field to train on so we’ve got no qualms about that.
“We will be fully fit and raring to go.”
Coached by former Castleford Tigers captain Andrew Henderson, London finished second in the Kingstone Press Championship and thrashed visitors Batley Bulldogs 76-16 to break their Qualifiers duck two days ago.
Their squad includes ex-Leeds players Alex Foster and Jamie Thackray, alongside former NRL playmaker Jamie Soward, who scored a try and kicked 10 goals against Batley.
Ablett said: “They will be up for a big game, especially coming off the back of a big win. They scored some points and showed they can be a really dangerous team. I have said all along you can’t underestimate anyone in these Qualifiers and we definitely won’t be doing that. We will do our preparation like we always do.
“We will have a good look at them and where we can exploit some weaknesses and we’ll look at their strengths.”
Leeds comfortably saw off Championship side Featherstone Rovers 62-6 in their opening Qualifiers tie, but Ablett insisted Saturday’s game will be challenge.
He said: “They are obviously a good side. They surprised a few people by finishing second in their league and to put that many points on Batley, who are a good team, is a good effort. We will be making sure we prepare right this week.
“It is a bit different, we will be travelling down on Friday and staying overnight.
“We’ve got four or five hours on the coach, so that’s a bit different, but preparations have started well and we’ll be looking to have a big week in training.”