Leeds Rhinos won’t make top six without Blake Austin and Richie Myler – opinion

Josh McAllister
Leeds Rhinos back-rower James Bentley tackles Ben Reynolds.

Leigh Leopard's Ben Reynolds is tackled by Leeds Rhinos' James Bentley. Photo by PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo.

Leeds Rhinos will not make the Super League play-offs without star players Blake Austin and Richie Myler, if they had any remaining hope at all. 

Austin, 32, made the shock loan move to Castleford Tigers for the remainder of the season on Thursday in their bid to retain their Super League status.

The move, a surprise to Leeds Rhinos head coach Rohan Smith himself, has seen the Headingley Stadium side lose their best in-form player, a huge blow in their final push for the play-offs.

Austin had been hoping to remain at Leeds, with his current contract expiring at the end of the season.

However, his hoped deal obviously never arrived, prompting the former Warrington Wolves man to make the move to the Mend-A-Hose Jungle.

Meanwhile, 33-year-old Myler suffered a stress-related fracture in his foot during the Round 20 defeat to St Helens at the Totally Wicked Stadium, with Smith confirming it could be a season-ending blow.

It means the Rhinos could be without their two most influential players with just six fixtures left.

Leeds Rhinos will struggle to make top six without key duo

Austin has provided 14 assists for Leeds in 2023, the second most at the club behind full-back Myler, who has produced 17 – the sixth most in the competition. The pair have also crossed for seven tries between them, while Aidan Sezer has 10 assists to his name in 2023 and is yet to register his first four-pointer.

It was a poor attacking performance against Leigh Leopards live on Sky Sports in Round 21, crossing for just one try through hooker Jarrod O’Connor.

The recent blows saw 22-year-old Corey Johnson named in the halves alongside Aidan Sezer, while Luke Hooley made his home debut, having only made one appearance all year for the Rhinos against Hull KR.

Speaking on Sky Sports commentary, Phil Clarke claimed the side ‘didn’t deserve’ to make the top six following their poor defence to allow opposition prop forward Tom Amone to crash over for the first points of the second half.

That try saw Leigh extend their lead to 10-6, while Wilkin also said Leeds looked ‘blunt’ with their attack.

That lack of imagination, creativity and coherence will likely see Leeds miss out on the play-offs this season, just 12 months after a Grand Final appearance.

The 13-6 loss against Leigh marked the side’s 12th defeat of the season, their third in a row, to remain four points away from a play-off spot.

It was far from Leigh’s best performance either, with attention on next week’s Challenge Cup final at Wembley Stadium against Hull KR.

Remaining fixtures for Leeds include Wigan and Catalans, and it would be tough to see victories against those two based on recent performances.

The Rhinos also have trips to Huddersfield and Hull, which could be vital for all three teams in their hopes of the play-offs, as well as next week’s clash with Warrington Wolves, who were actually promoted to fifth position despite Friday’s defeat thanks to points difference.

But it’s that attack that’ll prove to be Leeds’ biggest downfall.

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