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Three transfer targets for Leeds Rhinos as they look to address problem position

Leeds Rhinos suffered a morale-sapping defeat against Huddersfield Giants at the weekend. The Rhinos threw away two 12-point leads to lose 30-24 at AMT Headingley.

The loss of two key players in the second half compounded the Rhinos’ misery. Both David Fusitu’a and Harry Newman were visibly limping as Huddersfield scored through through Harvey Livett.

The game against Huddersfield was Fusitu’a’s first appearance of the season but the injury he suffered means he faces another two-month layoff.

Leeds Rhinos winger suffers fresh setback

Leeds Rhinos David Fusitu'a

Credit: Imago Images

This is the latest in a series of injury setbacks Fusitu’a has suffered at Leeds. Since joining the Rhinos, the Tongan International has managed just 32 appearances across three seasons.

Fusitu’a’s contract expires at the end of the season. The Loiners now have to decide if they are willing to wait for Fusitu’a to return from injury. They may decide to bring in a replacement to cover his spot in the short term.

Rohan Smith today told BBC Radio Leeds that the winger is in a race to be fit for the back end of the season, explaining:”Fus has got a medial knee ligament injury which is going to be an eight to ten-week recovery, so that is really disappointing.

“We’ll help him through this part and he’ll hopefully be back to finish the season at the back end of the year.”

Here are three potential signings the Rhinos could make, to help solve their injury crisis in the backs.

Fouad Yaha

Credit: Imago Images

Fouad Yaha is an experienced Super League winger, who is currently struggling for game time at the Catalans Dragons. He first broke into the Dragons side in 2015, but is currently behind Tom Johnstone and Tom Davies in the squad. Yaha has featured just twice this season, against the Rhinos and London Broncos.

Yaha has left the Dragons on a short-term loan deal in the past. He joined Hull KR on a two-week loan in 2023, making two appearances. He also has a history with the Rhinos, spending a short trial at Headingley in 2014.

Yaha is out of contract at the end of the season and not playing regularly. He could be the perfect candidate to extend Leeds’ French connection. He would join countrymen Justin Sangare and Mickael Goudemand at the Rhinos.

Matty Russell

Matty Russell on loan at Hull FC

Credit: Imago Images

Matty Russell is another player on the periphery of their club’s squad. Russell has had limited first-team chances this season. He is currently behind Josh Thewlis and Matty Ashton in the pecking order.

Sam Burgess has shown that he is willing to allow Russell to leave on loan already this season. Russell spent two weeks on loan at Hull FC earlier in the season. He played twice during his loan spell at the MKM Stadium, gaining valuable match fitness. Russell’s contract expires at the end of the season, and he will be keen to secure his future.

However, the Scotland International has significant Super League experience and can play on the wing and at full-back. He is a versatile option, who could make a quick transition into the Leeds Rhinos side.

Lee Kershaw

Lee Kershaw trained with Leeds Rhinos in pre-season

Credit: Imago Images

Lee Kershaw spent a significant chunk of the pre-season period training with the Rhinos. Rohan Smith was reportedly interested in retaining him, but could not find room within Leeds’ salary cap. However, Derrell Olpherts has since left the Rhinos, and with Fusitu’a injured, Leeds may decide now is the time to bring Kershaw back.

Kershaw is under contract at the London Broncos until the end of the season and is a regular starter in Super League’s bottom side, having made seven appearances. However, the Broncos are favourites for relegation to the Championship at the end of the season. It seems unlikely they would stand in Kershaw’s way if a club of Leeds’ stature came calling.

Having spent time training with Leeds, Kershaw is familiar with how Rohan Smith wants to play. This would make slipping into the gap left by Fusitu’a much easier. Whilst his signature may not set the pulses of Rhinos fans racing, he would be a solid, pragmatic option.

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