Leeds Rhinos may well have overcome the Castleford Tigers on Saturday afternoon in order to qualify for the Super League play-offs, but they will have to make do without the experienced Ash Handley for this weekend’s clash against the Catalans Dragons.
That’s because of a foot injury sustained in Saturday’s crunch match with their bitter rivals Castleford as Handley was shown limping on his left foot after a hefty collision.
And, for Leeds head coach Rohan Smith, the game against Castleford was a costly one.
“We’ve probably lost a couple again yesterday and we will see if anyone is back in the picture,” Smith told BBC Radio Leeds.
“I don’t think any of our outside backs will be back for selection this week so the biggest selections will be whether we will shuffle things around there.
“He will have a scan and hopefully we will get some feedback about that.
“He (Handley) couldn’t go again after half-time so it’s not looking too positive there in the short-term at least.”
Smith also had his say on the Catalans Dragons and assesses Steve McNamara’s squad.
“Those guys have been a stable group over the last four years, they’ve played in big games. Their halfback (Mitchell Pearce) has played a lot of Grand Finals and 350 NRL games or whatever.
“I would imagine they are going to be fresh and at their best. You throw in Toulouse there and we’ve been to the south of France four times in the last eight or nine weeks.”
If Leeds do end up beating Catalans on their own patch – which has been done by the Rhinos before in 2022 – it would signal yet another remarkable turn of form inspired by Smith.
The Leeds boss could even be labelled Super League’s Coach of the Year for the way in which he has transformed the West Yorkshire club.