Leeds Rhinos: Rhinos’ Sutcliffe gets all-clear to face the Dragons

Liam Sutcliffe
Liam Sutcliffe
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CONCUSSION VICTIM Liam Sutcliffe has passed a head test and will be available for Leeds Rhinos’ game at Catalans Dragons on Saturday.

Sutcliffe has missed Leeds’ last two matches since being knocked out in the Good Friday win at Hull. That came a week after he suffered concussion in a defeat away to Warrington Wolves, but he has now been given the all-clear.

Kallum Watkins

Kallum Watkins

“I’ve passed the test so I am all right to play this week,” Sutcliffe confirmed.

“It is always frustrating missing games, especially how it happened.

“There’s not much you can do, you just have to bide your time and make sure you go through all the protocols and make sure you are good to go again.”

Successive head injuries were a concern and Sutcliffe, 22, revealed: “I had to go to Manchester to see a concussion specialist in the early part of last week, just to get a double-check.

“Everything was fine there, they just suggested giving it another week or so and then coming back for the Catalans game.”

Sutcliffe was injured a minute into the defeat at Warrington in an incident which led to Ben Westwood being suspended for four games.

He was cleared to play against Hull, but suffered another blow to the head late in that match.

“I can’t remember much of what happened at Hull,” he said. “Apparently I was clean out. There were a couple of things I was doing after – asking questions if we’d won or not – which I didn’t really know about until I was told a few days later.

“At Warrington I wasn’t fully knocked out, I was just dazed and concussed.”

Sutcliffe’s availability is a boost for Rhinos, who will travel to France without England duo Kallum Watkins and Ryan Hall, as well as long-term casualties Jimmy Keinhorst and Carl Ablett.

They also have a doubt over Ashton Golding and Sutcliffe said: “Hopefully we can get a couple of bodies back.

“Kal and Hally will be a massive miss for us, but hopefully we can still put in a performance and get a result out there.”

Sutcliffe played in the centres at Hull and could be asked to slot in there again this weekend.

“If it comes to it I’ll be happy to play there,” he said.

“If I am picked this week I’ll be ready to do a job, wherever I play.”

He has also started at stand-off, scrum-half and in the second-row this season, come off the bench and filled in for spells at full-back and loose-forward. His versatility makes him a valuable asset, but Sutcliffe admitted he is keen to settle down in a specific position.

“I know while we’ve got injuries and people out of the squad I am going to have to fill in a few roles,” he said.

“But hopefully once players come back and everyone’s fit I can nail down a position.

“Wherever that may be I am not sure, but I would really like to nail down one position for the rest of the year when everyone’s back and hopefully have a crack there.”

Meanwhile, Sutcliffe confirmed he has a year remaining on his current deal, after the end of this season.

Speculation has suggested rival clubs are keeping a close eye on his situation at Leeds, but he said: “I am still contracted for next season.

“I am just concentrating on playing for Rhinos this year and trying to get some good form.”

Catalans will be without half-back Luke Walsh who has been banned for one game for using foul language to a match official in last Sunday’s defeat at Wakefield Trinity.

Former Castleford Tigers winger Justin Carney has been banned for eight matches for racially abusing an opponent.

The Salford player was sent off by referee Jack Smith 26 minutes into the Red Devils’ 29-22 win over Toronto Wolfpack in the fifth round of the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup last month following comments directed at former Leeds prop forward Ryan Bailey.

The 28-year-old Australian was subsequently charged with verbal abuse based on race or colour by the Rugby Football League’s match review panel, a grade F offence which normally carries a ban of eight matches or more.

Carney pleaded guilty to the offence when he appeared in front of an independent disciplinary panel in Leeds on Tuesday evening but contested the severity of the charge.