Mixed injury news for Leeds Rhinos as 2 stars set to return v St Helens but others remain sidelined

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Boss Rohan Smith has revealed mixed news on Leeds Rhinos’ injury situation ahead of Friday’s visit to St Helens.

Stand-off Brodie Croft and centre Harry Newman are expected to return, but prop Tom Holroyd remains on the casualty list, along with long-termers David Fusitu’a, Paul Momirovski, James Bentley, Morgan Gannon, James Donaldson and Riley Lumb.

Croft missed Rhinos’ previous game, a 26-0 defeat at Catalans Dragons two weeks ago, because of a groin “niggle”. Speaking at his weekly preview press conference today, Smith confirmed the 2022 Man of Steel is “back into full training with a view to playing this weekend”.

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Newman suffered a back spasm in a home loss to Huddersfield Giants on April 19 and has missed Rhinos’ last three matches. “It has settled right down,” Smith said of the England man’s injury. “He has been in full training this week as well. If everything pulls up after today’s session, he will be back in the mix on Friday.

Brodie Croft is set to return for Leeds Rhinos at St Helens on Friday. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.Brodie Croft is set to return for Leeds Rhinos at St Helens on Friday. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.
Brodie Croft is set to return for Leeds Rhinos at St Helens on Friday. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.

Newman’s likely return will ease some of the pressure in the backs as Paul Momirovski continues his return from ankle damage suffered in the win at Hull on April 28. “He is going really well,” Smith said of the Australian centre.

“He is trying to bring his return date forward. There’s a chance he could be available for next week [at home to Castleford Tigers on Saturday, June 1], but it’s more likely it will be after the [following weekend’s] Cup final.”

No firm return date has been given for any of Leeds’ other injury victims. Rhinos revealed yesterday they will be without Gannon for the entire 2024 campaign after he suffered two concussion in pre-season.

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Fellow second-rower Bentley has not played since failing a head injury assessment (hia) in the Easter win at Castleford Tigers and Smith said: “James is training really well within what he is allowed to do at this point. He is looking at a return to play in July so there’s still a bit to go. He has had a couple [of concussions] in a shortish period of time so the priority is on health first and getting ready to play comes after that.”

Leeds Rhinos' Harry Newman is back in  full training following a back injury. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com.Leeds Rhinos' Harry Newman is back in  full training following a back injury. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com.
Leeds Rhinos' Harry Newman is back in full training following a back injury. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com.

Prop Tom Holroyd is the club’s third concussion victim, having failed an hia against Warrington Wolves on April 5. Smith reported: “He is progressing, but quite slowly.

“He has not got a return to play date as yet, but we are hoping it is relatively soon. There was a period when we were hopeful he’d be back for St Helens, but he has never been in line to play this week - it was more hopeful.

“He has not gone through the [return to play] phases at the appropriate rate so he has had to see a consultant on a couple of occasions. It could be quite a short-term situation from this point, but it is a little bit of an unknown still.”

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Injured Leeds Rhinos centre Paul Momirovski is due back on the field next month. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com.Injured Leeds Rhinos centre Paul Momirovski is due back on the field next month. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com.
Injured Leeds Rhinos centre Paul Momirovski is due back on the field next month. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com.

Prop James Donaldson remains sidelined with a neck injury sustained in training two months ago, but is “improving” according to Smith. He stated: “He sees a consultant on Friday this week with a view to what the next stage is.

“He has progressed slowly, but he has progressed which is obviously a good sign. We will know a little bit more after that check up.

Fusitu’a has played just once this season, picking up a knee injury against Huddersfield Giants in his return from a similar issue with his other leg. “He is tracking really well and in line for three or four weeks to go,” Smith revealed.

Teenage winger Riley Lumb has been told he does not need surgery on the hamstring injury he suffered against London Broncos on May 3, but the coach said it is a “three-month type injury so he will be nine-10 weeks away from playing, I’d imagine”.

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With three outside-backs unavailable, winger Matty Russell - signed last week on a two-month loan from Warrington Wolves - is likely to make his debut on Friday. Smith explained: “We did make the commitment early in the piece to progress young players when the opportunities came, but with a couple of young players now being injured as well we felt it necessary to explore the market for an experienced player who could not just fill in, but make an impact.

“He is a very experienced player who has always been a handful coming out of back-field carrying the ball and a good finisher. He is very motivated to come here and do well for us and we look forward to him joining in and doing what he does best.”

Smith stressed Russell has “looked good” in training. He added: “He is very enthusiastic and trying hard to get to know everyone and how we do things around the place. He has done that well and he has fitted in nicely and trained well.”

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