Ash Handley enters exclusive Leeds Rhinos try-scoring club with Super League start

Aaron Bower
Ash Handley Leeds Rhinos Alamy

He may not have scored on Friday night, but Ash Handley’s start to the new Super League season has seen him join an exclusive club of Leeds Rhinos players.

Handley’s record of seven tries in the first five games of a league campaign – admittedly, he had that total after four games – is an impressive feat, and he is the first player to score that many tries at the start of a Super League season for Leeds in over 15 years.

That dates back to Scott Donald, who scored eight in Leeds‘ first five in the 2008 season. In fact, Handley is only the fifth man in the entire Super League era to score at least seven in the opening five league games – and you have to go a long way back to find the others. Here’s the rundown, starting with the man himself.

Ash Handley (2024) – 7 in 5

He has emerged as one of the standout wingers in Super League, and his try-scoring record has him clear at the top of the charts in the whole competition at this early stage of the season.

Handley would have actually been the first player in the Super League era to score in each of his first five games for Leeds had he managed it on Friday night but irrespective, his run of tries in those first four games has seen him nestled into a very exclusive try-scoring club.

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Scott Donald (2008) – 8 in 5

The Australian winger was one of the finest overseas imports Leeds brought in during their golden era of success, and his try-scoring record at the start of the 2008 campaign is up there as one of the very best.

Donald scored five tries in the first four games of the 2008 season, including doubles against Wakefield and Catalans, before a hat-trick in the Round Five defeat to Castleford took his tally to eight in five. It is a record that, in the Super League era, cannot be bettered – and can only be equalled by two men.

Mark Calderwood (2005) – 8 in 5

The only man who appears on this list twice, former Rhinos winger Mark Calderwood had a prolific try-scoring record at Headingley. And at the start of the 2005 season, when Leeds were defending their maiden Super League Grand Final success, Calderwood was in scintillating form.

He didn’t actually score in the opening Super League game that year, but a double against St Helens followed by four against Widnes in the next two rounds led to him finishing with five tries in the opening eight games. Calderwood finished that year with an astonishing 35 tries.

Danny McGuire (2004) – 8 in 5

2004 was arguably the most incredible year of Danny McGuire’s illustrious career, as he scored a staggering 39 tries for the Rhinos. Eight of those came inside the first five games of a league campaign that ultimately ended in triumph for Leeds.

A hat-trick against Castleford in Round Two was ultimately followed by doubles against Wigan and Bradford to help take his tally to eight in the first five matches. And McGuire certainly didn’t slow down from there, breaking the Super League record for most tries in a season by the end of 2004.

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Marcus Bai

Marcus Bai (2004) – 7 in 5

McGuire wasn’t the only man to start 2004 in brilliant form for Tony Smith’s side. Winger Marcus Bai matched the tally Handley has this season with seven in his first five games, too.

He scored a hat-trick in the opening round win against London Broncos, as well as a double in a comfortable 46-0 win over Widnes, plus tries in victories against Castleford and Bradford, too.

Mark Calderwood (2003) – 7 in 5

A hat-trick in the opening round win over Widnes in 2003 laid the platform for Calderwood to have a brilliant start to the 2003 Super League season for Leeds.

He scored four more times in the next four league games too, including another hat-trick in a 42-28 win against Huddersfield.

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