YEP Jury: First-choice half-back pairing key to Leeds Rhinos turning things around

After a week’s break due to the Challenge Cup quarter-finals, Leeds Rhinos are back in action on Friday when they take on local rivals Wakefield Trinity. Here our fans’ panel look forward to the match:

Wednesday, 12th May 2021, 4:30 pm


Last week’s injury update from the club proved two things: firstly, we really do have it tough at the moment, with 12 players out through either injury or suspension; secondly, things are looking up, and we’ll hopefully have Luke Gale and Kyle Eastmond back this week, with at least four more players likely to return by the end of the month.

In other news this week, Robert Lui announced his departure from the Rhinos at the end of the season.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Fans are hoping Robert Lui returns to action and that he and Rhinos can mark his return to Australia by finishing the year on a high. Picture: Alex Whitehead/

Whilst I’m not surprised that he’s made the decision to return to Australia, I must say it’s a real shame.

For me, Rob is one of our most underrated players who brings a lot of organisation and leadership to the side – two things we’ve been missing this year.

Hopefully he’s back to fitness soon, and able to see out his time at the Rhinos on a high.

We face Wakefield on Friday, who are looking for their first win of 2021 – let’s hope they don’t find it! We’ve had a week off to regroup and we should have two half-backs in the team ­– here’s hoping we get those much-needed two points.

Leeds Rhinos fans are delight captain and chief playmaker Luke Gale is back in the squad to face Wakefield Trinity. Picture: Allan McKenzie/


After a week off, following Leeds Rhinos’ exit from the Challenge Cup, and hopefully a few more bodies back from injury and two weeks’ reflection on how poor they were against Huddersfield Giants, I am hoping we will see a resurgent Leeds Rhinos against winless Wakefield Trinity on Friday.

Wakefield are the only team Leeds have beaten so far this season, although unconvincingly.

The worry for us is that winless teams after five games statistically are due a win.

Some Leeds Rhinos fans are excited that the club is being linked with Saints' James Bentley. Picture: Isabel Pearce/

Huddersfield hadn’t won a league game until they came up against Leeds, so it wouldn’t come as a major shock if Wakefield are less shaky and pull off a victory.

Should this happen then I think a lot of players, coaching staff and backroom staff will be taking a long, hard look at themselves and each other.

And asking the question, what is going wrong and how can we fix it?

A victory will ease that pressure slightly but, unless it is a victory to kick-start the season, then it will be a futile victory at best.

Leeds Rhinos' four-star 'try machine' Fran Goldthorp. Picture: Richard Sellers/PA Wire.

It’s been good to see Leeds Rhinos Women’s team back on the field.

It was 18 months since they last played a game and they are Super League champions and Challenge Cup holders.

Their defence of the Challenge Cup began with a 70-0 victory against Bradford Bulls.

Fran Goldthorp scored four tries and Caitlin Beavers scored two. Next up is St Helens in the semi-final. This should be a much closer game.

It was great to hear that the BBC are to televise the Women’s Cup final for the first time.

Meanwhile, back in Super League, Luke Gale and Kyle Eastmond should both be back for Friday’s game against Wakefield but it might be another couple of weeks before we see any of the other injured players back on the field.

Wakefield will be desperate for a win to kick-start their season so the Rhinos will have to improve on their discipline and game management to get anything from this game.

It will be good to see Ash Handley and Liam Sutcliffe combining down the left-hand side for the first time this year.


I was delighted on Saturday morning when I got the confirmation that I had my ticket to watch the boys live at HQ against Hull FC, on May 23, then I watched Hull on Saturday afternoon take apart a good, if out-of-sorts, Wigan side in the Challenge Cup.

With a week off last week, we have the chance to get some bodies back in the squad and fix some of the awful last plays we have been coming up with and work on passing the ball about, not just keeping to one-up carries.

It’s time for the backroom staff and coaches to start earning their wage and get us back, not only winning but playing the free-flowing rugby we have become used to watching.

Even though it’s been months since we last saw the boys live, if it’s rubbish that is being served up, we are sure to be voicing our opinions.

Is it too early to think of this week’s game with our neighbours Wakefield Trinity as a relegation decider?

Maybe it’s not just yet.

But we need to get out of this dire slump we are in and this fixture is as good a chance as any we’ll get.


A week’s rest, a refresh, a reset, call it what you will. My hope is that the season starts now.

Apart from the youngsters who have come into the team, there have been few positives from the first five rounds of Super League 2021.

Ill-discipline and unforced errors, mainly from experienced players who should know better, have been the major bugbears.

Can we turn it around? I hope so, but time is not on our side.

The returning players cannot feel their way back in; the luxury of time has gone.

There is blood in the water and all our rivals will be keen to see us suffer for as long as possible. But there is a good team in this squad and the return of Luke Gale is vital to our chances.

The top six is still possible if we can get some players back on the field and sort out our discipline.

Wakefield will offer stubborn resistance as they always do against Leeds, but this is almost a must-win game, not just for the two league points but our confidence.

Let’s go!


We should have, for the first time this season, a half-back pairing for Friday’s clash with Wakefield, which will be huge for us.

For me, it’s a huge game so early on; we haven’t won a game in five and a loss in this one could put us bottom of the league if other results go against us.

I have to praise Jack Broadbent on how he’s come on in this time whilst we have had a lot of injuries.

He’s already the likely winner of the Shooting Star award for 2021.

I wish Rob Lui all the best on returning to Australia at the end of the season.

Talking of outgoings, the out-of-contract list for us gives interesting reading, with five out of seven overseas players set to come off the books.

Maybe we will do some big business for 2022?

This week, we have heard rumours of Leeds being interested in signing James Bentley for 2022.

Bentley is one of the best second rowers in the league and he’s still got a long future ahead. He would be a superb signing for us.

Support the YEP and become a subscriber today. Enjoy unlimited access to local news and the latest on Leeds United, With a digital subscription, you see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content. Click HERE to subscribe.