Rohan Smith reveals Leeds Rhinos duo were setback by illness

Rohan Smith has revealed that two of his young forwards were setback by illness going into the new season.

One of those is young James McDonnell who signed from Wigan Warriors at the end of 2022.

McDonnell was sent on dual registration to Bradford Bulls last week but didn’t play.

He was enjoying a solid pre-season till he missed the Hull KR clash through illness and this alongside some bumps and bruises is what kept him out of the side:

“He’s been close for a little while and had a few bumps and bruises, and a little bit of illness that set him back at the back end of pre-season and the opening rounds. He’s in the picture and in good shape and ready to go now.

“He’s tough, physical, out of that Wigan academy system that’s brought through so many tough and fierce competitors. He’s out of that mould, he’s got good leg speeds and can break tackles as well. He’s got some good footwork and a good motor and competes hard.”

It is a similar situation with Sam Walters:

“Sam’s in the picture, he had a solid pre-season and trained really well. He played some good patches in the pre-season games but had a little bit of illness and a couple of niggles that knocked him about at the back end of the pre-season.”

This all makes the return of James Bentley all the more important.

Smith was also impressed by Liam Tindall who scored for Bradford last week:

“He took a nice finish and scored a try and did his job over all in a big win for the Bulls. He did a good job.”

In terms of selection in general, Smith said: “Some coaches like to keep the same team each time, I’m probably of the view of trying to build a squad and have players ready when needed. Each week you’re assessing who’s ready to play and what the team needs rather than going with the status quo.”

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