AN UNSCHEDULED weekend off will give Leeds Rhinos’ injured players extra time to recover, but is frustrating for fit-again prop Anthony Mullally.
The Ireland international was named in Rhinos’ initial 19-man squad for the visit of Catalans Dragons which was due to take place last night, but was postponed due to snow and ice around Emerald Headingley.
It would have been Mullally’s first game since suffering a dislocated finger against Hull KR at Elland Road three weeks ago, but he will now have to wait until next Thursday’s home clash with Hull.
“I was looking forward to it,” Mullally – who was one of 12 players unavailable for last week’s defeat at Widnes Vikings – said of his aborted return. “I don’t like watching when I can’t play and just training for no reason. I wanted to get back out there and have a big game.”
Despite the week’s delay, Mullally’s return will come much sooner than first feared. He said: “The nature of the injury was pretty gruesome, but in terms of timescale it’s not too long.
“It is a really long season, as I found out last year, so I am not too disheartened by the two games out.”
Tom Briscoe (back), Ryan Hall (tonsillitis), Joel Moon (leg) and Carl Ablett (groin) were also in contention to return from injury this week – after missing the 23-6 defeat at Widnes Vikings six days ago – and will now have longer to recover fully.
“I think we were pretty lucky last year with regards to injuries,” Mullally said.
“We are having a bit of a bad run at the moment, but hopefully we’ll get it out of the way and get everybody back towards the middle and back end of the season.”
Mullally missed just one game for Rhinos last year, scoring seven tries in 34 appearances.
He also starred for Ireland in the World Cup and admitted his injury came at a “bad time”, the day before he was due to fly to Australia for the World Club Challenge.
“I was gutted,” he said. “I had my bag packed, ready to go.
“That’s just rugby league and I believe everything happens for a reason.”
Ironically, though Mullally wasn’t in Melbourne two weeks ago, some of his family were.
“My sister was out there,” he said.
“She was going to see her fiance’s brother so she was going anyway.
“But my mum went to see me play in the game and it was too late to cancel.
“She had a good time, but she was gutted I wasn’t playing.”
Having to watch the last two games has been “tough” for Mullally, especially with Leeds struggling for fit players and suffering back-to-back defeats.
“It was hard in the first 20 minutes at Melbourne, when we were giving it a good go,” he admitted.
“Then when they started to get on top I wanted to be out there, helping out, but it wasn’t to be.”
Meanwhile, half-back Richie Myler says defence has to be Rhinos’ focus as they prepare for the showdown with Hull.
“Hopefully we’ll have some bodies back this week and we can put some things right,” he said. “There was a lot of effort last week, you can’t knock that, but maybe we lacked some smarts at certain points in the game.
“There were a few penalties that really hurt us and we conceded a couple of soft tries.
“Individually and collectively as a team we have to be better.”
With the ball, Rhinos have run in just two tries in their last two games and have failed to score in the second half of both.
“It doesn’t help with a lot of changes to personnel,” Myler admitted. “We’ve had a lot of players coming in and maybe we were a bit off, but that doesn’t negate what we did in D [defence]. Our defence was a long way off last week. If we are better with the ball we’ll make it a bit easier for ourselves, but our D is the big focus this week.”
Forwards Jack Ormondroyd and Mikolaj Oledzki, who played against Widnes and were in Rhinos’ squad for the postponed game against Catalans, are set to feature on dual-registration for Featherstone Rovers at Leigh Centurions tomorrow.