Why Leeds Rhinos' David Fusitu'a didn't play v Hull KR, Morgan Gannon concussion confusion, Sam Lisone boost

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Leeds Rhinos coach Rohan Smith has revealed why winger David Fusitu’a missed James Donaldson’s testimonial game against Hull KR today (Sunday).

Fusitu’a had been named in Rhinos’ squad, but was replaced on the right-wing by Derrell Olpherts. The former New Zealand and Tonga Test star was also a late withdrawal from the side which beat Wakefield Trinity in Rhinos’ opening pre-season game on Boxing Day.

Speaking after Leeds’ 26-18 win, Smith said: “Fus trained really well on Thursday and that was kind of a bit of a fitness test for round one. We were umming and ahhing early in the week about whether we just trained hard this week. He trained well on Thursday, but pulled up a little bit sore with his knee. We expect him to be right for round one, so we didn’t push it today. He is in good spirits and will be right for round one.”

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Leeds Rhinos winger David Fusitu'a. Picture by Simon Hulme.Leeds Rhinos winger David Fusitu'a. Picture by Simon Hulme.
Leeds Rhinos winger David Fusitu'a. Picture by Simon Hulme.

There was a scare late in the match when Rhinos second-rower Morgan Gannon was taken off for what appeared to be a head injury assessment (hia). The 20-year-old has suffered a series of concussions over the past two seasons and failed an hia on Boxing Day.

But Smith said: “There was a bit of confusion about that one, because Ganno said he got a stinger - which is what really rocked him there - to his shoulder. We will have a look at the video, but Ganno’s fine.”

The coach also hinted prop Sam Lisone, who had previously been ruled out of the Betfred Super League opener at home to Salford Red Devils in 12 days’ time following surgery to repair a broken thumb, might feature in Rhinos’ first competitive match. “Sam says he is strapping his thumb up to play in round one,” Smith said.

Mickael Goudemand (pectoral muscle), James Bentley (shoulder) and Tom Holroyd (knee) also missed the win over Hull KR with minor injuries, but could be in contention to face Salford. Salford were beaten 52-10 in a trial game at St Helens on Sunday.