It’s Thursday so that means at 12 o’clock today Rohan Smith will name his 21-man squad for the Rhinos’ game with Toulouse, so everyone will no doubt be looking forward to their lunchbreaks today.
I say 21-man squad, but that’s dependent on Leeds having 21 players which last week they didn’t instead naming a 20-man squad with a view of recalling Levi Edwards from his loan at York should the Rhinos need him.
It may be a similar case today with Leeds losing Matt Prior to suspension after the win over Castleford at the Magic Weekend and now Zak Hardaker is a doubt for the squad due to a thigh injury.
So with players dropping out of the squad, can Leeds fans be hopeful of any players returning to the fold?
That’s what we’re looking at this morning with three players who could return to the squad today.
Bodene Thompson is an obvious one. After picking up a two match ban against St Helens, he has now served his suspension and will be back in the fold for Saturday’s game and is virtually guaranteed to play due to Leeds’ lack of forwards at the minute.
His return is timely with Matt Prior picking up a suspension last week so he will likely come in to replace Prior in the side.
It’s likely to be a little annoying for Thompson who was back playing his preferred second-row position and showing some of his best form but Prior’s absence coupled with bans meaning all of Leeds’ specialist front rowers bar Mikolaj Oledzki are out ensures he will figure at prop in this game either starting or off the bench.
Last week Rohan Smith’s press conference came before the announcement of his squad in which he revealed that the training session the day of his squad announcement would indicate who would feature and who wouldn’t.
It now seems that Kruise Leeming was the player he wanted to use the training session to assess. So, it seems that Leeming wasn’t a million miles away from being named in the squad last week and therefore has a small chance of returning to the squad today.
It has been reported that Tom Briscoe has been gradually getting closer to fitness behind the scenes and a return of the outside back would be huge if Zak Hardaker is absent.
His return would also be timely with rumours circulating around the future of Liam Sutcliffe as it would give Smith another option at centre should this speculation have a negative impact upon Sutcliffe in any way.
2 David Fusitu’a, 4 Liam Sutcliffe, 5 Ash Handley, 6 Blake Austin, 7 Aidan Sezer, 8 Mikolaj Oledzki, 9 Kruise Leeming, 11 James Bentley, 12 Rhyse Martin, 14 Brad Dwyer, 16 Richie Myler, 17 Cameron Smith, 19 Bodene Thompson, 20 Tom Briscoe, 21 Morgan Gannon, 22 Sam Walters, 24 Jarrod O’Connor, 25 James Donaldson, 26 Corey Johnson, 28 Max Simspon, 32 Jack Sinfield.
Injured players in the squad:
With Leeds being so short on players, it’s very possible that Rohan Smith will include players he knows won’t be available come Saturday such as Kruise Leeming and Tom Briscoe or even Zak Hardaker. This was the case with Blake Austin after all.
I expect 19 of the players to be fit whilst other names may be included just to add some extra depth on uncertainty to the playing squad taken to France.
Thus, we may learn very little from today’s announcement.