THE RETURN of some long-term casualties will give Leeds Rhinos a much-needed Easter Monday boost, front-rower Brad Singleton says.
Stevie Ward, Liam Sutcliffe and Jimmy Keinhorst are all in contention to face Salford Devils at Emerald Headingley tomorrow, after more than a month on the sidelines and Brett Ferres could make his second appearance of the season following his return in the 22-22 draw at Huddersfield Giants three days ago.
“I thought Fez was great [against Giants], he fitted in like he hasn’t been out,” Singleton said. “It will be great to get some boys back, it freshens the team up, especially during the Easter period.”
Injuries to Sutcliffe and Keinhorst led to Ash Handley standing in at centre and he has scored a brace of tries in each of the last three games.
“I think it’s going to be a healthy headache for Mac [coach Brian McDermott] with Ash, Jimmy and Sutty all available, because Ash has been outstanding,” Singleton added.
Rhinos have conceded a total of 36 points in the opening stages of their past two matches, having been 24-0 down in the 25-24 loss to Castleford Tigers and 12-0 adrift against Giants, but Singleton insisted the way they start games isn’t a major concern.
Huddersfield’s opening try came after a rare mistake by Leeds full-back Jack Walker and Singleton reflected: “It’s once in a blue moon he does that. He has been absolutely outstanding for us, but they got momentum there.
“Danny Brough is a very influential half and he got control, his kicking game was outstanding, but we managed to claw something back.
“The past three games have been very intense and very big contests and we came up against the best of Huddersfield.
“We knew there’d be a reaction, but credit to our boys for sticking in there and grabbing the one point.
It will be great to get some boys back, it freshens the team up, especially during the Easter period.Brad Singleton
“I think we had momentum in the second half, but we didn’t turn that into points.
“We showed a lot of spirit and I think it will stand us in good stead for the rounds coming up, but it’s a shame we didn’t get the win.
“I think we’d class [Friday’s game] as a loss, that’s what it felt like.”
Despite two games without a win, Singleton feels Rhinos are in good shape. He stressed: “I don’t think we are too far off. We showed good signs in the game against Saints and against Cas, though there probably wasn’t much to take from the Huddersfield game.
“It will be nice when we get some forwards back and I think Moon and Myler have a good balance – a very structured half in Richie and a very off-the-cuff one in Moony who is very unpredictable and on his day he is probably one of the best in the league.
“I think we have got the foundations for something great.”
Salford are ninth in the table and have a dismal record against Rhinos, but Singleton is expecting another tight game tomorrow.
“In Super League you can’t judge a side on their league position,” he warned. “I am sure Salford will get up for it and they’ll be wanting a win.”
Rhinos will be without prop Anthony Mullally who suffered concussion against Huddersfield. Second-row Jamie Jones-Buchanan and hooker Brad Dwyer also drop out, but Josh Walters – 18th man against Giants – retains his place in the initial squad.
Jake Bibby drops out from the Salford team which beat Catalans Dragons on Good Friday. George Griffin takes his place in the squad and Ryan Lannon and Derrell Olpherts are also vying for a call into the 17.
Leeds Rhinos: from Golding, Briscoe, Watkins, L Sutcliffe, Hall, Moon, Myler, Parcell, Singleton, Ablett, Ward, Delaney, Keinhorst, Ferres, Handley, Walker, Smith, Oledzki, Walters.
Salford Red Devils: from Johnson, Welham, Sa’u, Evalds, Lui, Littlejohn, Kopczak, Tomkins, Griffin, Jones, Hauraki, Flanagan, Tasi, Lannon, Burgess, Nakubuwai, Wood, Olpherts, Mossop.
Referee: Greg Dolan (Widnes).
Kick-off: Tomorrow, 3pm.