St Helens v Leeds Rhinos - 17-year-old Morgan Gannon among rookies called up by Challenge Cup holders for trip to Super League champions
Three teenagers and two 20 year olds - with 16 first team appearances between them - are included in Leeds Rhinos’ 21-man squad for Saturday's Betfred Challenge Cup third round tie at St Helens.
Eight of Rhinos’ 32 full-time players are on the casualty list and Kyle Eastmond, signed last month, is not in contention to make his debut, against the club he last played rugby league with a decade ago.
Back-rower Morgan Gannon, aged 17, has been named in the initial squad for the first time and loose-forward Jarrod O’Connor, 19, is also in the reckoning, after four senior appearances last year.
Centre Corey Hall, 18, could retain his place after featuring against Castleford Tigers eight days ago, along with 20-year-old centre/full-back Jack Broadbent.
Second-rower Sam Walters, 20, is the other rookie in the squad, having played four times in 2020.
Players unavailable through injury are backs full-backs Jack Walker (foot) and Richie Myler (hamstring), centres Harry Newman (broken leg) and Konrad Hurrell (calf muscle), winger Ash Handley (knee) stand-offs Rob Lui (quad) and Callum McLelland (groin) and front-rower Tom Holroyd (lower leg).
The 17 on duty in last week’s defeat by Castleford Tigers are all included in Rhinos’ 21, alongside Walters, O’Connor, Gannon and off-season signing King Vunniyayawa, a prop-forward, who is yet to make his debut.
Saints are without Aaron Smith, who suffered a head knock in last week’s win over Hull KR.
But coach Kristian Woolf has confirmed Lachlan Coote will make his first appearance of the season, Mark Percival and Agnatius Paasi are both available after injury and Lewis Dodd and Jake Wingfield are also hoping for a call-up.
St Helens: from Coote, Makinson, Naiqama, Percival, Grace, Lomax, Fages, Walmsley, Roby, Lees, Thompson, Bentley, Mata’utia, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Amor, Paasi, Welsby, Batchelor, Dodd, Simm, Wingfield.
Leeds Rhinos: from T Briscoe, Gale, Oledzki, Leeming, Prior, Mellor, Martin, Tetevano, Dwyer, L Sutcliffe, Smith, Vuniyayawa, Thompson, A Sutcliffe, Walters, L Briscoe, Donaldson, O’Connor, Broadbent, Hall, Gannon.
Referee: Ben Thaler (Wakefield). Kick-off: Saturday, 2.30pm.
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