New signing Kyle Eastmond to train with Leeds Rhinos for first time in opposed session against York City Knights

Kyle Eastmond will train with Leeds Rhinos for the first time today (Thursday), when they face York City Knights in an opposed pre-season session at Emerald Headingley.

By Peter Smith
Thursday, 4th March 2021, 10:55 am

The 31-year-old former St Helens half-back joined Rhinos yesterday on a two-year contract, after a decade in rugby union.

The Covid situation - and injuries - have restricted Rhinos to only one pre-season game, at Huddersfield Giants on Sunday March 14.

They begin their Betfred Super League campaign against Wakefield Trinity at Emerald Headingley 13 days later and today’s opposed training will give coach Richard Agar an opportunity to try some combinations against outside opponents.

Kyle Eastmond in his new surroundings at Headingley on Wednesday. Picture by Phil Daly/Leeds Rhinos.

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Rob Lui (quad muscle), Jack Walker (foot) and Harry Newman (broken leg) are all on the long-term casualty list and Luke Gale (pectoral muscle) and Callum McLelland (recovering from ankle surgery) are racing against time to be fit for round one.

“We have been running some combinations based on Luke not being fit and Callum McLelland not being available,” Agar revealed.

“Ash Handley has spent a fair bit of time at full-back and looked very good and Liam Sutcliffe has done some work in the halves and so has Richie Myler.”

Ash Handley in action against Huddersfield last year. he has been training at full-back for Rhinos. as well as on the wing. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.

The coach insisted: “I’d like to think, moving forward, it is about the team and the squad.

“When we’ve put situations like this to our group, they’ve been more than willing to be adaptable and flexible for the sake of the team.

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“We will work out what our best combinations are going forward, but whatever they are, we view them as exciting ones.”

Of the opposed session, Agar said: “We are going to look at different elements of our defence - to go 13 on 13 against another team, it will be a bit unscripted for us, we will get some continuous football going and from a fitness perspective that will help us.

“We will try out some of our good ball stuff, but we will be able to control it.

“It’s not going to be a game, where it is really random, it’s refereed and it ebbs and flows.

“We will do it in little blocks which suit us so we can control the tempo of the session and go up against some different opposition.”