LEEDS RHINOS will be without a number of key men for their home tie against St Helens on Friday night.
Both Blake Austin and Sam Lisone will sit out for a number of weeks following calf injuries sustained in the loss to the Wigan Warriors in the Challenge Cup Sixth Round last weekend.
“Blake is training well, he is a couple of weeks away and Sam is probably a month away,” Smith said.
However, that has opened the door for young fullback Luke Hooley to make his second Rhinos’ appearance after enduring a miserable debut away at Hull KR earlier in the season.
“We have done plenty of specific fullback practice from a skill point of view as well as conditioning. He has had a couple of great games with Batley against good Championshp teams so he has had a good block of work,” Smith continued.
“He came off the back of no pre-season as he suffered an unopposed ankle injury that required surgery. If anyone needed a full pre-season after coming up from the Championship it was Luke but he wasn’t able to.
“It took a week or two for him to get over his debut and some of that might not ever go away but those experiences are usually the turning point in life. You choose to make yourself better and that’s what he has done.”
One man who will also sit out the clash on Friday night will be James Bentley, whose concussion issue has been compounded by a dentistry problem.
“He is still working on his return to play from the concussion that he had. Sort of complicating matters he has had his wisdom teeth removed which has been a slower than expected recovery.”
Ash Handley will, however, return from illness which kept him out of the Wigan clash last weekend.