Kirke to make Leeds return

Leeds Rhinos Grand Final winner Ian Kirke is set to make his first appearance of the pre-season campaign after being named in the starting line up for Sunday’s game at Whitehaven.

Kirke had a minor operation on his ankle in the close season and has not featured so far however he is looking to stake his claim in the game in Cumbria ahead of next Friday’s engage Super League opener against Crusaders in Wrexham.

Kirke is one of ten first team squad members included in the side to play at the Recreation Ground with Grand Final winner Ryan Bailey set for a fitness test on Saturday. New Zealand World Cup winner Greg Eastwood could make his debut if his injured wrist is given the all clear by specialists in time although he is rated as doubtful by the coaching staff.

Commenting on his return Kirke said, “I am looking forward to getting some game time under my belt ahead of the start of the new season. The injury has taken a little longer than I first hoped to clear up but I am back 100% now and that is the important thing ahead of a long, hard season. There is lots of competition in my positions so I need to make a good impression on Sunday with the season starting next week. There are lots of players in that situation and that competition for places is ideal for bringing the best out of everyone.”

One of the players Kirke is facing competition from is new signing Kyle Amor. The National League Young Player of the Year for last season will come up against his former club for the first time this Sunday after being named in the starting line for the Rhinos. Kirke says that Amor has fitted in well to life at the Champions. “Kyle has been great since he came here. I know he is looking forward to Sunday’s game and he will be looking to produce his best form to show that he can play at the top level. He has certainly been doing that in training and I think he will be a big boost to our squad for the new season.”

The team in full is:
1. Tom Bush
2. Jamel Chisholm
3. Michael Coady
4. Kallum Watkins
5. James Cruickshanks
6. Jack Carvell
7. Tom Carroll
8. Luke Burgess
9. Paul McShane
10. Kyle Amor
11. Ian Kirke
12. Jay Pitts
13. Chris Clarkson
14. Luke Ambler
15. Ryan Bailey (subject to fitness test)
16. Liam Hood
17. Danny Bravo
18. Jared Stewart
19. Brad Singleton
20. Greg Eastwood (subject to medical clearance)

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