Rohan Smith’s original team selection had plenty of talking points.
First was the expected absence of Zak Hardaker. Named in the 21-man squad no one expected him to feature after he picked up a thigh injury last week against Castleford.
His injury saw 17-year-old centre Max Simpson come into the side at centre joined by Rhyse Martin in the next interesting selection.
Named at centre largely because Liam Sutcliffe was set to start in the halves alongside Corey Johnson. However, Sutcliffe has pulled out due to illness and will be replaced in the halves by young Jack Sinfield who was set for a spot on the bench.
His spot on the bench has now been taken by Liam Tindall meaning there is no place at all for new arrival Yusuf Aydin who joined the Rhinos this week on a two-week loan from Wakefield to ameliorate Leeds’ prop crisis which sees them down to one specialist prop with everyone else suspended with Matt Prior the latest to feel the disciplinary panels’ wrath.
Mikolaj Oledzki of course is the one remaining and starts alongside the developing Sam Walters but the absence of Aydin is curious even in the original 17 but especially following this re-jig.
The Rhinos have had to make a late additional change, Liam Sutcliffe has been ruled out through illness and is replaced by Jack Sinfield in the starting line up, Liam Tindall is now on the bench
— Leeds Rhinos (@leedsrhinos) July 16, 2022
The James Greenwood problem
Yusuf Aydin could be headed down a similar path to James Greenwood.
Greenwood was signed on loan in 2020 giving Leeds extra size when they needed it but never played. When he was set for a debut away at Catalans, he was suspected of having Covid-19 and subsequently the game was cancelled.
Then the season was paused due to the lockdown which soon followed and he returned to Wigan.
Like Greenwood who was denied a debut by external forces, Aydin surely must have been denied by something outside of his control otherwise he would have surely played especially following the loss of Sutcliffe.
The only way I can see Smith giving him the snub twice is if it was never his decision to bring him in and he’s more keen to play his young players however this seems unlikely with the way he talked up the Wakefield prop earlier this week.