Leeds Rhinos injury crisis analysed as Rohan Smith provides update on concussion absentees

Aaron Bower
Ash Handley Leeds Rhinos Alamy

A number of clubs across Super League are battling injury problems – and Leeds Rhinos are chief amongst them.

The Rhinos‘ early-season woes with injuries have deepened further in the last week, with the news that David Fusitu’a would be sidelined for the next eight to ten weeks with a knee problem, and Harry Newman is missing for this Sunday’s trip to Hull FC with a back problem.

This is the state of play with the Rhinos’ injuries – and an update on some more longer term absentees, too.

Who’s missing with injury?

As mentioned, Fusitu’a is out for the foreseeable future with that knee problem he picked up in last weekend’s defeat to Huddersfield Giants. Newman is definitely out this week too, and they’re not the only ones.

Ash Handley had trained this week in his recovery from a rib cartilage injury, but he has failed to make Rohan Smith’s 21-man squad for the Super League trip to Hull FC. James Donaldson is another who is sidelined due to a neck problem.

It means that, incredibly, Leeds are closing in on having an entire starting 13 worth of players missing due to injury, with the following players out:

David Fusitu’a, Harry Newman, Max Simpson, Ash Handley, Tom Holroyd, Corey Johnson, Kieran Hudson, Morgan Gannon, James Bentley, James Donaldson, Toby Warren.

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It has led to youngsters Ben Littlewood and Riley Lumb being drafted into the 21-man squad for this weekend’s clash with Hull.

What about the players with concussion problems?

Morgan Gannon
Morgan Gannon in action for Leeds – Alamy

Rohan Smith has addressed the respective recovery timeframes for the Rhinos’ three players currently sidelined with concussion this week, too.

James Bentley has been stood down after multiple head injuries, while Tom Holroyd and long-term absentee Morgan Gannon remain missing.

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The prognosis for all three players are clearly different, as Smith explained this week – with Holroyd likely to be the first to return from his respective stand-down.

“Holroyd is moving through the protocols but he won’t be available this week,” Smith said.

For Bentley, there remains a level of uncertainty over when he can even return to full training, let alone play again.

Smith said: “Bentley has got an indefinite return date, that’s awaiting further consultation in the coming weeks. It could be another couple of weeks, or it could be longer than that.

“We’re trying to reserve judgement until we know and until the consultant gives us the direction on that one. James is in decent health, he’s just not able to crank up the training load as yet. But he’s in good spirits, he’s staying positive and we’re hoping he can turn a corner and get back to full training some time soon.”

Gannon is the one that, understandably, Leeds are taking the most care of given how long he has been out of action. He is yet to feature in 2024 and has already had another extended period out earlier in his career after being stood down.

“He’s no time soon about returning,” Smith said of Gannon. “A decision on when that return will come in the next little while, the possible timing to it.. we’re not rushing that one. He’s been through a lot that kid, so we’re taking the long game there.”

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