Which Leeds Rhinos players are in contention for a World Cup call-up?

THIS AUTUMN’S World Cup is an incentive for players at every Betfred Super League club – and Leeds Rhinos are no exception.

By Peter Smith
Monday, 7th June 2021, 4:45 am
Leeds Rhinos' Luke Gale is in contention to play for England at this autumn's World Cup. Picture: Ed Sykes/SWpix.com.
Leeds Rhinos' Luke Gale is in contention to play for England at this autumn's World Cup. Picture: Ed Sykes/SWpix.com.

Rhinos have players eligible for at least half of the 16 nations set to compete in the men’s tournament.

Here’s a look at who could be in contention and what their chances are of featuring in the global competition.

Harry Newman: England

Leeds Rhinos' Konrad Hurrell. Picture: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com.

Coach Shaun Wane has declared himself a fan of the 21-year-old centre, who played once for England Knights in 2019 and is a member of the elite performance squad.

Newman has been sidelined since last September with a broken leg and a scan last month delayed his playing comeback until at least July, but if he can prove his fitness and regain the form he showed last year, he has every chance.

Konrad Hurrell: Tonga

The centre has represented the country of his birth 11 times, scoring two tries and was in their 2013 and 2017 squads.

Leeds Rhinos' Ash Handley. Picture: Ed Sykes/SWpix.com.

He hasn’t been at his best for Leeds so far this year, but will be a strong contender if he hits his straps over the final four months of the season – beginning against Tonga coach Kristian Woolf’s St Helens on Friday.

Ash Handley: England

Already capped by England Knights, Handley is in the elite training squad, but faces strong competition for a World Cup wing spot.

Two injuries already this year – to the same knee – are a concern, but Handley will almost certainly be in the competition squad if fit. His ability to fill in at centre or full-back if necessary is a bonus.

Leeds Rhinos' Harry Newman. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe.

Luke Gale: England

Rhinos’ captain played in the World Cup final four years ago and is in Wane’s performance group.

He has had a disrupted start to the season, because of injuries, but will be in the World Cup squad if he stays fit between now and October.

Mikolaj Oledzki: England

Leeds Rhinos' Mikolaj Oledzki. Picture: Tony Johnson.

The powerful forward has already played for England at academy and Knights level. Not included in the performance squad, he has made an outstanding start to the season and was called up to train with England in April.

If Wane is true to his word and selects on form, Oledzki must be a genuine contender, though a lack of experience, relative to some of his rivals, could count against him.

Kruise Leeming: England

Leeming was also invited to train with England two months ago, having already featured for the Knights.

Realistically, it would take a series of injuries among other hookers for Leeming to be selected this time, but he could be a front-runner in 2025.

Rhyse Martin: Papua New Guinea

Leeds Rhinos' Kruise Leeming. Picture: Tony Johnson.

The goal-kicking second-rower captained the Kumuls when they beat Great Britain Lions in 2019 and – barring injuries – is certain to be in their World Cup squad.

Zane Tetevano: New Zealand/Cook Islands

Born in New Zealand, Tetevano was capped three times by the Kiwis in 2019, but has said he would like to represent Cook Islands this year, as he did in 2013.

That will make him one of the first names on their squad list.

King Vuniyayawa: Fiji

The big forward has played three times for the Bati and increased his chances of a World Cup spot by joining Leeds in the off-season.

He has shown some good signs off the bench for Rhinos and is likely to be included in Fiji’s World Cup squad.

Callum McLelland: Scotland

The 21-year-old half-back was named Scotland’s international player of the year in 2019 when he helped them qualify for this autumn’s tournament.

He underwent ankle surgery in the off-season and then sustained a groin injury so has yet to play this season, but will be a certainty for the Bravehearts’ squad if fit.

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