New Leeds Rhinos trio to feature against Wakefield Trinity on Boxing Day
THREE OF Leeds Rhinos’ four new signings will feature in the pre-season opener against Wakefield Trinity on Boxing Day.
Australian forward Matt Prior won’t arrive in England until after the game, but scrum-half Luke Gale, hooker Kruise Leeming and second-row Alex Mellor have all been named in arguably Leeds’ strongest starting side for a Wetherby Whaler Festive Challenge.
Wingers Tom Briscoe (knee) and Luke Briscoe (groin) and prop Dom Crosby (knee) are all on the casualty list and second-rower Rhyse Martin – who returned to training this week after autumn Test duty with Papua New Guinea – will not feature.
Rhinos will otherwise be at full-strength with all 19 players named drawn from the full-time squad – though others could be added before the game.
Jack Walker is set to start at full-back after recovering from a shoulder operation and, with the Briscoe brothers both ruled out, Harry Newman has been named on the right-wing and Liam Sutcliffe at centre, opposite Ash Handley and Konrad Hurrell who scored 36 tries between them in 2019.
The match will mark Gale’s return from an Achilles tendon injury suffered in training with Castleford Tigers at the start of January.
He will partner stand-off Rob Lui in the halves for the first time and Leeming gets the nod at number nine.
Mikolaj Oledzki starts at prop, alongside Ava Seumanufagai; Stevie Ward partners Mellor in the second-row and Cameron Smith is at loose-forward.
Centre/second-row Alex Sutcliffe has an opportunity to impress off the bench after starring on dual-registration in Featherstone Rovers’ march to the Betfred Championship Grand Final.
Hooker Brad Dwyer and scrum-half Richie Myler are also among the substitutes, as is rookie prop Muizz Mustapha and experienced forwards James Donaldson and Adam Cuthbertson.
Rhinos’ Boxing Day side is: Jack Walker, Harry Newman, Liam Sutcliffe, Konrad Hurrell, Ash Handley, Rob Lui, Luke Gale, Ava Seumanufagai, Kruise Leeming, Mikolaj Oledzki, Alex Mellor, Stevie Ward, Cameron Smith. Subs Brad Dwyer, Richie Myler, Adam Cuthbertson, James Donaldson, Alex Sutcliffe, Muizz Mustapha.