How Luke Gale’s near Leeds Rhinos return came about prior to RFL denial

As it was in 2015, last night’s game was a celebration of players moving on.

New Zealand included Wigan Warriors legend Thomas Leuluai in their starting line-up and sent him off into retirement with a special Haka for him and his three children.

Meanwhile, Leeds were saying goodbye to Tom Briscoe, Brad Dwyer, Muizz Mustapha, Bodene Thompson and Liam Sutcliffe who didn’t play through injury.

The Rhinos also welcomed back Adam Cuthbertson for one last game before retirement and treble teammate Jimmy Keinhorst.

Intriguingly, two players with no connection with Leeds also played in Salford’s Elijah Taylor and Keighley Junior Sa’u, who both played to feature alongside friend Bodene Thompson one last time.

Leeds nearly had one more guest player in former skipper Luke Gale who revealed on Twitter that he nearly featured for the Rhinos having trained with the club throughout the week but was denied a Headingley appearance due to a one match ban incurred at the end of the season which was upheld by the RFL.

It seems like a bit of a surprise that Gale would have returned. Seemingly not set for retirement just yet despite leaving Hull FC so it wasn’t like the situation with Cuthbertson.

Well, Smith revealed just why Gale, who was stripped of the Leeds captaincy last year, was set for a return: “It was one of those weeks where if there were blokes floating around and wanting to keep fit we were happy to invite people in.

“Luke has been living with Donno whilst he’s been doing some house renovations so when it was suggested he wanted to come down and have a run around at training, he was welcome.”

Nonetheless, Gale was denied a proper Headingley farewell by his suspension after all he missed out on it last year through a season ending injury against Leigh.

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