Leeds Rhinos pack options explored after latest injury and suspension blows

Aaron Bower
Rohan Smith Leeds RhinosRohan Smith Leeds Rhinos

Leeds Rhinos head coach Rohan Smith - Alamy

Leeds Rhinos look like they will be stretched on Friday evening when they welcome Warrington Wolves to Headingley Stadium in Round 7 of Super League.

Injuries and suspensions are hitting several clubs hard throughout the competition, and the Rhinos are no exception – with their pack in particular looking somewhat lighter than Rohan Smith would have liked.

Here’s the state of play with the Rhinos’ squad ahead of Friday night: and the potential options Smith has at his disposal.

Who’s definitely missing?

James Bentley Leeds Rhinos Alamy

As things stand – though any successful appeal would change this – Justin Sangare and captain Cameron Smith are both set to be missing due to suspension.

Smith and Sangare have both received one-match bans following incidents in the victory over Castleford Tigers last Thursday, leaving Rohan Smith with two significant holes to fill in his 17. The loss of Smith, in particular, will be a big one to fill.

Another who is definitely out is second-row James Bentley, who failed a HIA at Castleford last Thursday, automatically ruling him out.

Long-term absentee Morgan Gannon is another who is definitely still missing, with his return to play protocol dictating he is still some way off taking part in a game.

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Young forward Kieran Hudson would have potentially been an option to come into the thinking for Smith on Friday night: but he failed a HIA while out on dual-registration with Halifax on Good Friday against Bradford, meaning he too is unavailable for selection.

Leon Ruan has gone out on an initial one-month loan to Championship side Doncaster, but it’s believed he hasn’t yet reached a point in that loan where a recall can be activated, meaning he is another who is likely to be unavailable.

Are there possible returnees?

Tom Holroyd would be, as things stand, an injury doubt given how he missed the Castleford game with an elbow problem. Leeds were hopeful that he could return in time to face Warrington on Friday night but until Smith holds his pre-match press conference later this week, his availability is unclear.

There is also a question mark on young forward Tom Nicholson-Watton, who is out on a season-long loan at York Knights – but Leeds have the option to recall the prop if they wish to.

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Who could come in?

This is where things get slightly tricky. Three of the starting pack at Castleford last week – Smith, Sangare and Bentley – are all missing barring any successful appeals, and of the four players in the 21-man squad last week who didn’t make the cut, three are backs: Alfie Edgell, Luis Roberts and Jack Sinfield.

That would lean towards the other, James Donaldson, almost certainly coming into the fray, and if Holroyd is fit, he would take another spot. But the Rhinos do not have an abundance of forward options to fill that remaining spot if Smith goes like-for-like and names four forwards on the bench.

It may well be that Smith has to go with a lighter bench, giving someone like Edgell a run in the 17.

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