Today Rohan Smith spoke to the press ahead of Leeds’ clash with Toulouse and the reveal of his 20-man squad for the trip to France.
In that squad there were some notable absentees such as Aidan Sezer and Blake Austin whilst Yusuf Aydin is set to make his debut for the club as he begins a two week loan from Wakefield.
Smith began his press conference speaking about the decision to sign Aydin: “That came about in the last couple of days. We were on the look out for some reinforcements in our middle unit given the guys who are out suspended at the moment. We had a conversation on Tuesday, it all happened really quickly.
“He’s a good hard worker. He’s very excited to test himself even if it is only for two weeks.
“We haven’t really been looking for the loan situation. There’s been some names thrown up and offered along we’ve been more focused on getting people back from injury.
“I’ve seen Yusuf play and it was more of a timing issue with four middle players suspended at the moment.”
Speaking of loans, he also spoke on Jack Walker’s move to Hull FC revealing he will remain at the MKM stadium until the end of the year: “The intention is to the end of the season – he needs to be playing.”
Walker’s departure and recent rumours have fuelled the fire of the rumour that Oliver Gildart will be joining Leeds for the rest of this season.
Smith said he was simply unaware of this news: “I’m not aware of any news there despite what’s been broken. I’m not aware.”
Leeds could do with more bodies in with plenty of injuries leaving their squad crippled.
Aidan Sezer is the latest to join the treatment room and Smith gave an update on him and halfback partner Blake Austin: “It looks like Blake will have a chance to play next week and Aidan as well but maybe a little longer there. They’re short term injuries. They’re key players and I’m not going to endorse playing injured. They put their hands up to play this weekend but they’re just not medically right to play. So, we took that out of their hands.”
He also had a word to say on Kruise Leeming’s foot injury: “There’s no major injury there but feet are a difficult thing.”
Meanwhile, Smith revealed Briscoe had suffered a few setbacks in his return from injury: “Tom is a few weeks away. He’s had a few minor setbacks.”
Despite these injuries, Smith remains coy on the notion of transfers saying they’re always possible: “We have the potential to make late moves but there’s nothing set in stone there. There’s moving parts there and we’re looking to build and grow our squad all the time for this year and for next.”
When asked about whether Liam Sutcliffe could be on his way out to enable Gildart’s arrival, Smith said: “Our media people will make announcements about signings when they’re actually things.”
So, Smith is set to plough ahead with what he’s got and gave a few hints at how Leeds could line up on Saturday: “Richie is capable of playing in the halves, Zak Hardaker can fill in at fullback. We’ve got Jack Sinfield as well and Liam Sutcliffe can play in the halves as well. We have a few things to work out and we’ll sort that tomorrow.”
Of course, one reason for all the disruption has been the suspension to Matt Prior which Leeds sought to appeal.
Smith revealed how Leeds went about this and revealed some odd truths about the process which failed: “We used a comparison in that hearing that we deemed a lot more forceful than Matt’s. The footage was shown and the panel acknowledged that the other was a lot more forceful that was a grade A but decided that Matt’s was grade B still.”
He also gave the behind the scenes story behind Harry Newman’s appeal yesterday which was also unsuccessful: “We thought it was perhaps worthy of a different charge. We didn’t feel like it was an unreasonable challenge they did and added an extra week so we just contested that actual process of ‘frivolous.’