WITH HIS team-mates facing a third game in eight days, fit-again prop-forward Keith Galloway is hoping to bring some energy and fresh legs to Leeds Rhinos’ side tonight.
The Australian former Test prop has missed the last three matches due to a knee problem, which required minor surgery, but is included in Leeds’ initial initial 19-man squad to face Leigh Centurions at Headingley.
Second-rower Carl Ablett could also be back after a nine-game lay-off following a knee operation. The return of two former internationals – plus captain Danny McGuire who missed Monday’s defeat at Widnes Vikings – will lift a weary Leeds team as they aim to get back to winning ways and end their hoodoo against sides at the bottom end of the Betfred Super League table.
Galloway, whose start to the season was delayed as he recovered from a ruptured Achilles, said: “My first game back was the start of the Easter period and I played three games in a week then so I know how the boys will be feeling.
“There will be a lot of sore bodies, but at least the whole competition is going through it. Hopefully I can bring a bit of energy on Friday and lift the boys up.”
The front-rower made his sixth successive appearance in Rhinos’ Ladbrokes Challenge Cup win over Barrow Raiders, but missed the Magic Weekend defeat by Castleford Tigers and the bank holiday games against Warrington Wolves and Widnes.
“The knee feels good,” Galloway said. “It was pretty much a case of just letting the wound heal and not get infected and then I was right to start running again. It just sort of came on out of nowhere – the knee felt really stiff one day and I was limping around.
“I had an MRI and there was a couple of large loose bodies in there. The next day I was booked in for an arthroscopy, it came out and it feels really good now.”
Galloway admitted another spell on the sidelines was frustrating.
“Especially being out for so long,” he said.
“I came back and played a fair few games in a small amount of time and I felt my fitness was picking up and I was getting some good minutes out there.
“But the knee was sore and it could have been a lot worse; all I needed was a little clean out and there’s plenty of football left.
“If I hadn’t had it done I suppose it would have lingered around all year and could have got worse.
“I definitely couldn’t have played that weekend, I was in a lot of pain, but I’ve had the surgery and it feels really good now.”
Rhinos have won only two of their last five Super League matches and the points dropped on Monday make tonight’s clash – against the side second from bottom in the table – one they can’t afford to lose.
“Last Friday against Warrington was awesome,” Galloway observed of Leeds’ 40-0 win.
“It was probably the best performance the team has put in all year over the 80 minutes.
“To prevent a team scoring a point was awesome from our defence and our attack was really on, but then against Widnes was a bit of a let down.
“We will try and make amends for that [tonight].”
Leigh – also playing a third game in eight days – will offer a similar challenge to Widnes. Both teams are desperate for points and Galloway added: “It just shows you can’t take anything for granted.
“You have got to be up for every game, every team’s strong. I remember watching the boys against Leigh earlier this year and it was a really close match.
“Every team in Super League is capable of beating you if you’re not on. When it clicks Leigh are a dangerous team.
“Hopefully it doesn’t click this week, but if they do click hopefully we’ve clicked as well. If we are up for it we should be good.”
Galloway is in his second Super League season after joining Rhinos from Wests Tigers. Assessing the state of the competition, he said: “I think it’s a really strong league.
“There might be some blow-out scores every now and then, but there’s a lot of tight contests.
“Before I joined Super League you probably think there’s two or three teams that are always at the top, but this year has proved that’s not the case.
“Before I came over Castleford weren’t as strong as they are – and now look at them. There’s definitely good sides all over the comp’.
“We’ve got to try and get in that top-four at the business end. Every point we drop is not good, but if we can win most – if not all – of our games that’s what we need to do.
“I think the boys were pretty down on themselves about the Widnes game, but it is such a short turnaround we’ve just got to get up for Leigh and get the two points.”
Leeds Rhinos: from Briscoe, Watkins, Moon, Hall, McGuire, Burrow, Galloway, Parcell, Cuthbertson, Jones-Buchanan, Ablett, L Sutcliffe, Singleton, Garbutt, Ferres, Mullally, Walters, Handley, Baldwinson.
Leigh Centurions: from Fleming, Maria, Naughton, Brown, Dawson, Drinkwater, Weston, Paterson, Hansen, Pelissier, Tickle, Vea, McNally, Hampshire, Reynolds, Hood, Hopkins, Acton, Burr.
Referee: James Child (Batley).
Kick-off: Tonight, 8pm.