Injured captain Kevin Sinfield is “likely” to miss Leeds Rhinos’ clash with Catalan Dragons in the south of France on Friday.
INJURED CAPTAIN Kevin Sinfield is “likely” to miss Leeds Rhinos’ clash with Catalan Dragons in the south of France on Friday.
But relieved boss Brian McDermott is hopeful the captain’s ankle injury is not long-term and he could return against Huddersfield Giants a week later.
Sinfield twisted an ankle in the win over Warrington Wolves four days ago and left the ground with his foot in a protective boot.
McDermott said: “We will keep monitoring him throughout the week.
“The likelihood is he won’t play on Friday.
“There’s no long-term damage in there and if he doesn’t play this week, hopefully he will feature next week.”
Yorkshire Evening Post Shooting Star Liam Sutcliffe is set to take over the stand-off role if Sinfield is ruled out, McDermott confirmed.
Sutcliffe was left out of the side last week, after a substitute appearance in the opening game of the season away to Hull KR.
The 19-year-old produced a commanding display for Rhinos academy in a big win at Hull KR last Thursday and McDermott said: “Sutty is the next one in line to back up.
“He played really positively in the 19s last week.”
Sinfield hasn’t yet written himself off for Friday’s game.
He said: “It is improving and I’ve done everything possible with it to give myself a chance. It is still swollen and still in the boot, so I am governed by the medics. Hopefully they will let me have a run or a jog on Thursday, but I’ll have to see.”
With Stevie Ward now back in action following 10 months out due to a shoulder injury, Rhinos have just three players on the long-term casualty list.
“Ian Kirke (ribs) is about two weeks away, hopefully,” McDermott said. Jamie Jones-Buchanan (calf) could possibly be back next week.”
Prop Andy Yates, who signed from Hunslet Hawks last year, is still recovering from an Achilles injury suffered early in pre-season training.
Ward is expected to retain his place in the team for Friday’s game in Perpignan.
He played 46 minutes of last Friday’s game, in two spells and McDermott said: “He was a bit ring-rusty, but considering he has been out so long he did really well.
“Andy Barker [Rhinos’ physio] has done a good job with him and [head of athletic performance] Jason Davidson did a good job making sure he didn’t look out of place fitness-wise.”
Meanwhile, McDermott has saluted Ben Jones-Bishop’s professionalism following his omission from the team for Rhinos’ opening two First Utility Super League games.
Jones-Bishop came off the bench to score a second hat-trick in Ryan Bailey’s testimonial game at the end of last month, but new signing Tom Briscoe has been preferred on the right-wing in Leeds’ two competitive games so far, scoring four tries.
“He has been good, Bish, he has been professional about it,” said McDermott.
Rhinos will be making a whistle-stop trip to the south of France, flying on a chartered jet from Leeds-Bradford to Perpignan on Friday morning and returning around an hour after the final whistle.