Leeds Rhinos boss Rohan Smith has heaped praise on Ash Handley as the winger looks forward to his 200th career appearance tonight.
The Rhinos host Hull KR at Headingley, and hometown boy Handley will bring up a double century of senior games, nine years after his professional debut.
185 of the 199 amassed so far have been in a Leeds shirt. Across three separate loan spells with Featherstone Rovers, the 27-year-old has 11 appearances to his name, and there have been three international ones in there too.
Rohan Smith lauds milestone man
Australian Smith, who has coached Handley for two seasons now, said: “It’s hard for me to know [about Ash] prior to my time here, I’d obviously watched Leeds play but never really studied it or followed every game of Super League like I do now.
“In my time here though, Ash has been a competitor. He puts his body on the line and he’s a quality finisher, but he rolls up his sleeves and starts the sets out the corner with the same vigour that he tries to go and score his tries with.
“He’s a good player, and a really good person around the group. Ash is team orientated and plays for the badge on the front more than the name on the back.”
Rhinos waiting on returns
Winning the treble in 2015, and the Challenge Cup in 2020, Handley and his teammates last term reached the Grand Final.
Losing out 24-12 to St Helens, if Smith’s side are to be in with a chance of a return to Old Trafford in 2023, they first need to cement a spot in the play-offs. Currently sat 7th, Leeds are just two points outside the top six.
Tonight against KR however, they’ll be without a number of their squad, as detailed by boss Smith.
“We’re not too bad the way we’ve pulled up from last week, but Donno [James Donaldson] is obviously out so Justin [Sangare] will come back on the bench for him.
“Harry Newman, Zane Tetevano and Morgan Gannon are all tracking well. I believe they are all in the timeframe of four to five weeks away, but there are still a lot of things that they have got to get covered off before they are back for selection.
“That’s the basic timeframe at this point though. Derrell Olpherts has had a really mild calf issue the last couple of weeks too.”