A MASSIVE injury blow has rocked Leeds Rhinos’ treble-chasing women’s team, but boss Adam Cuthbertson insists they can cope.
Captain and joint player of the year Lois Forsell will miss the rest of the Women’s Super League season – and the start of next year – after suffering an anterior cruciate ligament (acl) injury.
Forsell is the second key player to sustain a season-ending acl injury after prop Danika Priim.
Cuthbertson admitted losing Forsell is a huge setback, but reckons Rhinos’ squad is strong enough to complete the treble without their star player.
The Challenge Cup holders will secure top spot in the table if they win at York City Knights on Sunday (2pm).
The semi-final will be the following week with the Grand Final in Manchester on the day of the Betfred Super League title decider.
Forsell is Leeds’ most influential player, but Cuthbertson and his side have had several weeks to get used to the news and he backed Rhiannion Marshall and Frankie Townend to step into the breach.
“I believe we can win it without Lois,” Cuthbertson said of Rhinos’ title challenge.
“We have got some really good young players and it is a great opportunity for the girls that have been second-fiddle to Lois all year to step up and put their best foot forward.”
Forsell missed Rhinos’ recent 32-20 win at Castleford Tigers and Cuthbertson said: “We went into that game prepared for life without her.
“The hooker and reserve hooker that day – Rhiannion and Frankie – got first and second in the player’ player of the match. They did an outstanding job and led the team around the park really well.
“We executed a good game plan and took a lot of confidence from that. We’ll be trying to roll that improvement into this week and continue to build as a team. We have got some injuries, but we want to create some momentum with the team we’ve got.”
Rhinos will go into Sunday’s final game of the regular season, at Haxby Road in York, one point clear of second-placed Wigan Warriors. York are bottom and were beaten 80-0 when they visited Leeds three months ago.
Cuthbertson is confident Rhinos will get the job done, but expects York to give them a closer battle this time.
He predicted: “York will want to finish on a high, but we want to finish as league leaders so it’s more about us and getting our game right.”