Myler or Walker? Leeds Rhinos boss has full-back "quandry" for Challenge Cup final showdown with Salford Red Devils

Fit-again Leeds Rhinos full-back Jack Walker hopes he has done enough to play himself into Wembley contention.

By Peter Smith
Saturday, 10th October 2020, 6:00 am
Jack Walker, third from left, is congratulated by Rhyse Martin after scoring against Hull. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.
Jack Walker, third from left, is congratulated by Rhyse Martin after scoring against Hull. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.

Walker made his comeback from a long-term foot injury with a 40-minute stint against Catalans Dragons last week and played all of the 40-22 win over Hull on Thursday.

He scored a brace of tries and provided an outstanding pass for another in what is likely to be Rhinos’ last full-scale hit out before they face Salford Red Devils in next Saturday’s Coral Challenge Cup final.

Walker was left out of the semi-final win over Wigan, which came between the Catalans and Hull games, when coach Richard Agar continued with Richie Myler at full-back.

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Myler had never played that role before Walker’s injury, against Warrington Wolves in February, but has been in outstanding form as the 21-year-old’s replacement.

Myler moved into the halves, his preferred position, against Hull when regular stand-off Rob Lui was not risked.

Rhinos visit Warrington Wolves on Tuesday, when Agar will field youngsters and fringe players and the initial 21-man squad for the final will be named two days later.

“I hope I have [played my way in],” Walker said.

“Rich has got some tough calls to make, so it is what it is.

“I have played as well as I can play so it is all down to him.

“It is going to be tough, he has got a few headaches.”

Walker said he felt good after his first full game in eight months.

“My foot has come through pretty good,” he confirmed.

“It’s just a bit sore from it being my first full 80-minutes at full-back, but I thought I went pretty well.

“There were a couple of errors I did, because I was a bit rusty to be fair.

“It was my first 80 minutes in eight months so it’s going to feel like that, but overall I thought I went pretty well.

“I am pretty happy.”

Rhinos came through Thursday’s game with no serious injury concerns, though Ava Seumanufagai had a slight hamstring issue.

Alex Mellor, who missed the match after taking a bang to his ribs against Wigan, is expected to be available for the final and Agar is confident Lui will also be passed fit.

With Bodene Thompson, Mellor’s replacement on Thursday, Cup tied, major changes are unlikely, if Rhinos can avoid injuries next week, keep clear of coronavirus and are given the all-clear by the RFL’s match review panel.

Who will play at full-back is one decision Agar will have to make and he described it as “a good quandary”.

He said: “Richie has been in terrific form.

“Rob wasn’t ready to play [against Hull] so we need to check on him moving forward. He has got a couple of little knocks.

“We will see how he recovers; at this stage we’re confident it’s not something a couple of days’ rest won’t solve, but he has got to get through a week’s training and get through it really well.

“We know if he doesn’t make it, then Jack’s right in there with a chance.

“If not, I have got a strong dilemma and it’s a strong position to be in.

“We will have a look at Salford, we think we are playing a really good team and it’s important we try and pick the right team for that game. There’s a couple of guys who didn’t play [on Thursday] who will be in the conversation too, so we’ll see.

“I am not about to reveal our team yet because I don’t know it.

“I will give it some thought and then hopefully come up with the right answers.”

Agar will have to wait to see if teenage front-rower Tom Holroyd is available for the final after he was accused of a possible ‘crusher’ tackle on Hull’s Jack Brown.

“When he got him in that position he did release him, but I am certain it will get looked at [by the review panel],” Agar said.

Asked about the Holroyd tackle, Hull coach Andy Last said: “These type of collisions are happening more and more in the game.

“I don’t think anyone teaches it, it tends to happen when you get a taller bloke against a smaller bloke. I don’t think there was any malice in it, it was just one of those unfortunate collisions.

“We could easily have got a penalty, but we didn’t so we just got on with it.”

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