Leeds coach makes major decisions on Harry Newman and James Bentley

Josh McAllister
Harry Newman, PA Images.

Picture by Will Matthews/PA Archive/PA Images

Rohan Smith has confirmed that both Harry Newman and James Bentley will play their first game of the season against Wakefield this Friday.

Meanwhile, Kruise Leeming’s injury isn’t as bad as first feared.

Newman, 23, was limited to just seven appearances last season due to a series of hamstring issues. He was also forced to miss the World Cup on home soil, and has not featured in 2023 yet.

Back-rower Bentley, 25, represented Ireland at last year’s World Cup tournament but picked up a PCL injury that has sidelined him ever since.

He was named in the 21-man squad for last week’s trip to St Helens, but did not play.

Smith on Harry Newman and James Bentley

“Harry will feature on Friday. He’s very excited, that’s for sure,” Smith said.

“Everyone knows what Harry can do and the boys love playing with Harry.

“This week at training, they’ve sort of cracked on with things and Harry will be another one of the 17. It’s not about Harry, but it’s good to have him back.

“He’s back on schedule. It was a little tricky given the injury that he’s had as it isn’t a common one. And the time frames can fluctuate.

“But he’s bang on and ready to go and he’s done a lot of good work in the last couple of weeks.”

On Bentley, he continued: “James Bentley will play as well, which is also good news.

“He epitomises that competitive spirit. He’s done some good work in the last few weeks in getting his rehab and return to play stuff done.

“He’s in a good place and we’re looking forward to him competing and chasing his position in the starting team back.”

Squad update including Leeming and Sangare

Leeming, 27, was forced from the field during Leeds’ 25-24 victory over St Helens last Friday.

Providing an update, Smith commented: “It’s not as bad as first thought and he has done some training.

“But I felt it’s best to get some graduated sort of return to full training and not take any risks with it on a shortish turnaround from that injury.”

Smith also hinted that Corey Johnson could make his return to first-team action. The 22-year-old made his first appearance since injury in last week’s reserves win over Bradford.  

Meanwhile, Justin Sangare has dropped out of the 21-man squad following the birth of his daughter.

Smith continued: “Justin’s partner went into labour during the St Helens games, but he was committed towards playing and finishing that game.

“We’ve given Justin some compassionate leave to be with his family this week given he’s away from home and hasn’t got his family network around, so it’s important that we support Justin and his beautiful family.”

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