Ones to Watch this week
SL.Rd5.Giants v Rhinos. Sun2ndMay2021.© MATTHEW MERRICK PHOTOGRAPHY
Coming to the Rhinos game against Salford this Friday? Here are three players to watch out for in the big game at Emerald Headingley.
There is also plenty of interest for Rhinos fans this weekend in the Betfred Championship as a number of the club’s young players continue their loan spells with Batley Bulldogs and York City Knights.
Here are our top five players to watch out for:
1. Ash Handley
One Rhino returning from the sidelines this week will be winger Ash Handley, who missed both Catalans games.
On his return to the squad against Warrington in round 13, following an injury suffered on England duty, Handley made a statement against the Wolves. Not only did he make a big play to beat three Warrington defenders in the in goal area to score Leeds’ third try of the night, he also wasn’t afraid to sprint around the outside of former England international Josh Charnley and set up Alex Mellor.
He averaged 10 metres gained on each carry and finished the game with 144 metres from 15 carries (his best since the Rhinos met Huddersfield at the start of May). Handley added three tackle busts and two clean breaks to his stats sheet too against the Wolves to help the Rhinos to a 22-20 result. Going head to head with the likes of Rhys Williams, Ken Sio and Salford’s quick back line on Friday night, Handley could have his hands full but expect him to put in another big performance.
2. Richie Myler
Taking on his former side for the second time in 2021, Richie Myler will be looking to keep up his current form against the Red Devils in front of a full crowd at Emerald Headingley.
The full back/half back lit up the clash between Leeds and Salford at the AJ Bell Stadium with his two tries and two try assists, as well as making 149 metres and eight tackle busts, and currently leads the Rhinos with nine try assists in 2021 (seventh in Super League). Although he missed the wins over Leigh and Warrington through an injury sustained against Salford, he returned for the back to back clashes against Catalans that ended in two second half fightbacks for the French outfit. With Richard Agar’s side looking to get back to winning ways, and jump Hull KR into the top six for the first time this season, Myler will be a key figure for fans to keep an eye on.
Read more of Myler’s pre match thoughts in the Rhinos’ official matchday programme ‘Blue & Amber’, which will be on sale at the ground.
3. Levi Edwards
17-year-old Levi Edwards goes into his third week on loan with Betfred Championship side Batley Bulldogs. As one of three players to be loaned to Craig Lingard’s side from the Rhinos in 2021, Edwards is following in the footsteps of current first team players Jack Broadbent and Sam Walters, who both enjoyed productive spells in the maroon and orange in 2019.
Against Dewsbury Rams last Thursday, Edwards opened the scoring as former Rhino Ben White and full back Luke Hooley found the centre running a strong line. Breaking through the first tackle, it was a stroll in for Edwards under the posts. As the Bulldogs built up a 32-10 lead, it was Edwards that finished off the match; taking a long ball from White and fending off Will Oakes to complete a 38-10 result and win the man of the match.
Along with Rhinos Under-19s players Oli Burton and Oli Field, the centre will be available for Sunday’s clash with Newcastle Thunder. Currently sat seventh and six points behind the Bulldogs, Edwards will be looking to put in another big performance to fend off Thunder at The Fox’s Biscuits Stadium.
4. Mikolaj Oledzki
Along with Handley and Rhyse Martin, power prop Mikolaj Oledzki is in line to return to Richard Agar’s side tomorrow night.
Oledzki has been one of Super League’s best forwards in 2021 and was rewarded a few weeks ago when he was included in Shaun Wane’s England squad that took on the Combined Nations All Stars. With the exception of the last two games against Catalans, he has been ever present for Leeds along with Matt Prior; the two forming a formidable combination along with young gun Tom Holroyd following his return from injury.
Going up against the likes of Lee Mossop, Pauli Pauli and Seb Ikahihifo, Oledzki is a welcomed return to deal with the big forwards opposite him on Friday night and hopefully get Leeds back to winning ways.
5. Corey Hall
Rhinos player Corey Hall could make his debut for York City Knights this weekend, after he joined the club on loan earlier this month. After defeat to Featherstone Rovers in the AB Sundecks 1895 Cup last weekend, York will be hoping to boost their league position against bottom club Swinton Lions this weekend.
Hall, who came through the Rhinos Academy in 2020 and also made his first team debut that season, has made one appearances in Super League this season against Castleford but can further his development under James Ford and also play alongside Super League veterans Ben Jones-Bishop, Danny Kirkmond and Ryan Atkins.
The Knights are without a win in six matches in the Betfred Championship recently, although the loan signings of Mikey Lewis from Hull KR, Riley Dean from Warrington and Corey Johnson from Leeds have shone, despite their age.
Leeds Rhinos have put tickets on sale for the first game with no capacity restriction for Friday’s game. Leeds are hoping the Rhinos family will come out in force to celebrate and watch Rugby League together again.