Rohan Smith provides update on Nene Macdonald’s injury & captaincy for 2023

Josh McAllister
Nene Macdonald Rohan Smith Leeds Rhinos

Leeds head coach Rohan Smith has provided an update on Nene Macdonald’s injury ahead of the 2023 campaign as well as the vacant captaincy armband.

Macdonald, 28, has joined the Headingley Stadium side on a two-year deal from Leigh. However, the centre sustained an injury during his World Cup campaign with Papua New Guinea in November.

The former NRL man was forced from the field during his side’s quarter-final loss to England at the DW Stadium.

Coach Smith did not provide a timeframe on Macdonald’s injury, but did confirm he is currently undergoing rehab.

“He had a decent quad injury in the PNG versus England World Cup quarter-final match,” Smith told Love Rugby League. “He’ll be in rehab for a little while yet. It’s touch and go (whether he’ll be fit for the start of the 2023 season).”

Meanwhile, new recruit Luke Hooley and forward Mikolaj Oledzki are expected to miss the start of the new season having undergone successful surgeries.

Smith expects to play a handful of new faces during their Boxing Day clash against Wakefield, which has also been confirmed to be streamed live on Our League.

“They’ll be a really mixed team out on Monday,” Smith confirmed. “They’ll be some very experienced guys and some younger guys and a few new guys who will make their first appearances in a Rhinos jumper.

“It’s too early for Sam Lisone. Visas and work permits took a bit longer than expected, which is nobody’s fault, but just how it worked out.

“Justin Sangare and James McDonnell will both have a game. Leon Ruan will have a game as well. Derrell Olpherts will play as well. 

“Cameron Smith had a relatively minor elbow surgery. He’s almost back to full capacity but not quite good to play on Monday.”

Rohan Smith on 2023 captaincy

Meanwhile, Smith revealed that he has not yet made a decision on his captain for the 2023 season. Kruise Leeming led the side last year, having been appointed ahead of the 2022 campaign as Matt Prior’s successor.

However, it is not yet known who will be Leeds’ captain next season.

“I haven’t (made a decision). They’ll be no strict process on that,” Smith said.

“That role will be sorted in time. It’s not something that’s pressing at this point in time.

“Everyone is taking the pre-season to get themselves ready and I’m still understanding individials and how the group interacts with each other.”

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