SUPER LEAGUE leaders Leeds Rhinos have been left without any experienced wingers after Ryan Hall was told he faces as long as a month on the sidelines.
Hall has been playing with a wrist injury and scans have revealed a minor fracture. Rhinos’ other wing man Tom Briscoe has missed the last four games following surgery to repair a damaged shoulder and will be out of action for up to another eight weeks.
Hall has scored three tries in Rhinos’ past two matches and his loss is a huge blow ahead of Sunday’s trip to third-placed Salford Red Devils.
Rhinos had initially believed Hall would be available this weekend, but were told of his lay-off after he saw a specialist yesterday.
Speaking late last night, club spokesman Phil Daly said: “He went on Monday and had a scan.
“He went back and was told there is no ligament damage and no need for an operation.
“He could have been out for about 10 weeks if he’d needed an op’, but there’ll be no lengthy lay-off. He has a slight bone fracture of the wrist and he needs to let the bone heal with a pot on it.
“He is facing three or four weeks out of action.”
Teenager Ash Handley has filled in on the right-wing for the four matches since Briscoe was hurt in last month’s defeat at Warrington Wolves, scoring two tries.
With Hall unavailable, boss Brian McDermott’s most likely option is to call-up England academy youngster Ashton Golding, whose only senior start was in the loss against Warrington.
Golding – who was outstanding for Rhinos in their pre-season fixtures – is a specialist full-back, but can also play on the wing.
An alternative could be to switch Zak Hardaker to the left-flank, with Golding coming in as the last line of defence.
Ironically, one of Salford’s wingers on Sunday will be Leeds-born Ben Jones-Bishop, who left Rhinos at the end of last year due to a lack of first team opportunities following Briscoe’s arrival.
McDermott said: “It’s a massive shame for Ryan and a big blow to us.
“But we’ve dealt with and handled injuries well in the past and I’m sure this will only provide an opening for another of our hungry and keen academy products that have a huge desire to play for Leeds Rhinos first team. He will keep fit and strong under the supervision of Jason Davidson and I’m sure this will be beneficial to Ryan in the long run.”
Hall has scored five tries this season and had been confident he was regaining his form following a disappointing start to the year.
Speaking after the Easter wins over Castleford Tigers and Wakefield Wildcats, Hall said: “Tries don’t solve everything, they put a nice glossy touch on it, but there’s a lot more to my performance than just scoring tries.
“I think it was that side of my game that was letting me down and making me feel like I wasn’t performing.
“That side of my game was a bit off, but I think that improved over the Easter period.” McDermott will name his initial 19-man squad for the trip to AJ Bell Stadium tomorrow.
Rhinos’ medical staff are checking on centre Joel Moon and second-row Brett Delaney, who both suffered damaged ribs against Wakefield three days ago.
Meanwhile, Rhinos’ under-19s are in action tomorrow at Widnes Vikings (7.30pm).