David Fusitu’a eyeing injury return date while caution key for Leeds Rhinos forward

LEEDS coach Rohan Smith hopes David Fusitu’a will be able to take out his injury frustrations on Huddersfield when his side returns to action on Friday week – but he is less optimistic about the availability of James Bentley.

Challenge Cup elimination by St Helens means the Rhinos must kick their heels as the quarter-finals are played out, instead using the blank weekend to fine-tune ahead of the Super League derby at AMT Headingley.

Former New Zealand and Tonga winger Fusitu’a crossed for two tries as Leeds romped to a 54-0 win in the corresponding fixture last season, and has 15 in 31 appearances for the club in all.

Both those tallies would almost certainly have been higher had it not been for a series of injury issues since moving from New Zealand Warriors ahead of the 2022 campaign, when Smith was appointed three months in.

The latest were calf and knee problems picked up well into pre-season, with the amount of time the former would have ruled Fusitu’a out for leading to a decision to solve the latter through surgery.

“It’s been frustrating, but at least it wasn’t a big operation, they just needed to clean out the knee and there wasn’t anything there that they didn’t expect to see,” reported the Auckland-born 29-year-old.

“I haven’t been able to get any luck, but the aim now is to look forward while trying to consistently train, then consistently play. There’s still a lot of time left this season.”

Smith said: “David is getting some good work done and he’s heading in the right direction. The Warrington game (Leeds faced the Wolves at home on Friday) was a bit too soon, but hopefully he’ll be flying into that Huddersfield match.”

Second-rower Bentley suffered a head knock during the 26-6 win at Castleford over Easter and after suffering a concussion last season, has had a precautionary check by a specialist.

“He came through pretty well after the game, but obviously his health is the number-one priority, and we wanted to be guided by the experts,” added Smith.

“We will follow what they say, and while he has a chance of playing against Huddersfield, I’d be surprised if he was ready to go by then.”

Leeds head to Hull FC on Sunday, April 28.