Match Preview – Leeds vs Huddersfield

Richard Agar is facing the prospect of Leeds Rhinos being without Luke Gale and Konrad Hurrell for the rest of the Super League season due to injury.

Gale is facing at least six weeks out with a knee injury sustained in the Rhinos’ 46-10 win over Leigh Centurions last Friday, while Hurrell is facing a similar length of time on the sidelines with a foot injury.

Both are immediately ruled out of Thursday’s Rivals Round clash with Huddersfield Giants at Emerald Headingley and, with the Grand Final under eight weeks away, they will be struggling to play again in 2021.

“It’s not good news from Luke’s scan,” Leeds head coach Agar said. “It’s a grade-three medial so it’s not the scenario he wanted.

“Unfortunately, it’s probably at least six weeks so it’s going to be touch and go for him.

“Konrad has torn his plantar fascia so he’s going to be in a boot for four to six weeks.”

Hurrell’s three-year contract is up at the end of the 2021 season, and he has been linked with a move to St Helens, where he would be reunited with Tonga head coach Kristian Woolf. However, Agar says he has been offered a new deal to stay with Leeds.

“You’d probably have to ask Konrad about that,” Agar said. “He’s not told us that he’s signed with St Helens and neither has his agent but that may well be the case.

“We’ve been in dialogue with Konrad about extending his stay and that’s where it is.”

Along with Gale and Hurrell being ruled out long term, Leeds are still without prop Matt Prior for the visit of the Giants. Prior’s fellow front-row King Vuniyayawa, half-back Callum McLelland and second-rower James Donaldson come back into contention though.

Huddersfield, meanwhile, lost centre Ricky Leutele with a head knock sustained in the 18-16 defeat at Salford Red Devils.

But the visitors are poised to welcome back Lee Gaskell for his first game since June, while fellow half-back Oliver Russell has been added to coach Ian Watson’s squad after recovering from concussion.

Last week’s loss brought to an end a mini-revival for Huddersfield and while head coach Ian Watson left his old stomping ground of the AJ Bell Stadium defeated, he took solace from some aspects of his current side’s display.

“I thought for large parts of the game, we were really good,” Watson said. “We got the lead but let them back in through our errors. We were our own worst enemy.

“Our last plays weren’t good enough – it was a big learning lesson for our young halves.”

Were you part of our 1⃣9⃣5⃣6⃣0⃣ crowd that watched @Rob7Burrow and Leeds legends play against Bradford in 2020?
We welcome Rob back to @EmeraldStadium this Thursday as he launches his new book 'Too Many Reasons To Live'.

The match will also see Leeds icon Rob Burrow in attendance as guest of honour, with the eight-time Grand Final winner back at Headingley on a matchday for the first time since his fundraising game in January 2020, when a capacity crowd watched him play a cameo role as the Rhinos beat Bradford Bulls 34-10.

Burrow, who was inducted into the Leeds Hall of Fame in 2020 and is a patron of the MND Association, is launching his autobiography Too Many Reasons to Live.

Named squads

Leeds Rhinos: Tom Briscoe, Harry Newman, Ash Handley, Rob Lui, Kruise Leeming, Zane Tetevano, Brad Dwyer, Richie Myler, Cameron Smith, Tom Holroyd, King Vuinyayawa, Bodene Thompson, Sam Walter, Callum McLelland, Luke Briscoe, James Donaldson, Jarrod O’Connor, Corey Hall, Levi Edwards, Morgan Gannon.

Huddersfield Giants: Ashton Golding, Jake Wardle, Lee Gaskell, Luke Yates, Josh Jones, Matty English, Jack Cogger, Oliver Wilson, Leroy Cudjoe, Louis Senior, Owen Trout, Sam Wood, Sam Hewitt, Olly Ashall-Bott, Will Pryce, Nathaniel Peteru, Nathan Peats, George Roby.

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