Tom Briscoe closing in on Leeds Rhinos return

LONG-TERM CASUALTY Tom Briscoe could come into contention for Leeds Rhinos’ game at Catalans Dragons on Saturday – but the winger won’t be rushed back.

Tuesday, 10th March 2020, 6:00 am

Rhinos are also hopeful skipper Stevie Ward’s concussion symptoms are now under control, but full-back Jack Walker is set for operations on his damaged foot and a shoulder which will mean a lengthy stint on the sidelines and there is a slight doubt for this week over prop Ava Seumanufagai (knee).

Briscoe has not played since suffering an anterior cruciate ligament injury during a win at Huddersfield Giants seven months ago.

He underwent a knee reconstruction, but is now within touching distance of his comeback.

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Tom Briscoe celebrates with Harry Newman.

Coach Richard Agar said: “He had some tests [yesterday] and we are hoping if he clears those he could be back in contention this week.”

Agar insisted he has no fears about throwing Briscoe straight into Betfred Super League action without a warm-up game, but also stressed there is no pressure to bring Briscoe back and the right selection decision will be made for the team.

“Tommy is a specimen, a super athlete,” Agar said.

“Our medical staff have been great with him, he has been extremely diligent, but also he has absolutely ploughed through his re-hab’.

Jack Walker.

“He has been training with us now for two weeks, he looks in great nick and his knee looks good.

“His confidence in his knee is sky high and every time he has had to do some tests he has blown them away.

“We’d have no problem bringing him in, but we have got some people in good form and it’s about the balance and make up of the team.

“We aren’t going to rush him.”

Stevie Ward.

Ward was stood down “indefinitely” at the end of last month after failing to recover from concussion suffered in the Super League round one loss to Hull on February 2.

“Stevie had some tests and they did find something within his inner ear which was concussion-related and causing him the problems with dizziness and balance,” Agar revealed.

“We have set him on a re-hab’ programme, he is also on some medication and he has strict guidelines on dos and don’ts. He is feeling better already, but we can’t put a timescale on it.”

Seumanufagai, who missed the opening game of the year with a knee problem, was the only concern from Rhinos’ 66-12 thrashing of Toronto Wolfpack last Thursday.

Agar reported: “He got a slight strain to his medial ligament. We took him off very much as a precaution. It is the one he hurt earlier in the year, but we are hoping he will be fit for the weekend.

“He feels a lot better and he probably could have returned if we’d needed him to last week, but we just didn’t see any point in risking him with the scoreboard as it was. We will see how he goes.”

Having missed two matches because of a knee injury, Liam Sutcliffe played on dual-registration for Featherstone Rovers against Swinton Lions last Sunday, but suffered a “recurrence”.

Agar said: “He only played 15 minutes, so we will send him off for a scan and see if there’s anything in that.”

Rhinos don’t yet know how long Walker will be missing.

He was due to see a surgeon yesterday, Monday, and Agar confirmed: “He will have a foot operation and his shoulder done too.”

Prop Dom Crosby, who has not played since the end of the 2018 season because of knee damage which required several operations, is making progress.

Rhinos had hoped he would be available at the start of the season or within the first few weeks, but he is yet to get the green light.

Agar said: “He is back running again, which is a positive sign. We are hoping by the end of the month he may have a chance of rejoining full training.”