Leeds Rhinos will go into Saturday’s Super League Grand Final without their star halfback Aidan Sezer.
Sezer was taken off in the 50th minute of the Rhinos’ victory over Wigan Warriors on Friday night following a high tackle from John Bateman.
He failed to return to the field for the remainder of the game and there was some confusion about whether he had failed a head-injury assessment that would have made him unavailable for the Grand Final.
But Leeds coach Rohan Smith confirmed on Sunday that Sezer will miss the Grand Final and that he is already planning how to replace him in the team.
“I had a conversation with the doctor who has been in conversation with the Super League Chief Medical Officer, if that’s the right term,” said Smith.
“The category 1 symptoms is the determining factor. It means he will not be available.”
Smith expressed Sezer’s disappointment at having to miss the game.
He said: “He is shattered. He felt great going into the dressing room and he got through the post-game stuff feeling healthy.
“He is clearly disappointed to be missing out, but such are the protocols to protect players’ health in the long term, which we as a club fully support.
“It’s part of the game, unfortunately. Sometimes people have to bear the consequences of an accident.
“Those guys (Sezer and Bateman) played together at Canberra, so I’m sure there was nothing in it. Aidan will still be part of the squad and part of the group.”
The Rhinos will be missing the injured Harry Newman (hamstring), Morgan Gannon (concussion) and Ash Handley (foot), but Rhyse Martin will come back into the squad after having served a two-match suspension.
“Morgan Gannon won’t be selected this week, he has not undergone all his protocols,” confirmed Smith.
“He wouldn’t have been selected due to his age. We are playing the long game with that kid. He has to be symptom-free for a period of time. He had symptoms for several days after the incident.
Morgan is due to see a specialist, which will give us some guidance on what his recovery needs to be.”
St Helens came through Saturday’s game against Salford without suffering any significant injuries, but they will be without Alex Walmsley, whose foot injury will keep him out of the game and out of England’s World Cup campaign.
And Woolf will await anxiously any decision on whether his loose forward Morgan Knowles will be suspended this week, following his yellow card for twisting the arm of Salford halfback Chris Atkin in a dangerous manner following a tackle.
But Woolf is confident that one of his key players will be available for Old Trafford.
“I’d be flabbergasted if that was a ban,” he said.
“I can’t see what was dangerous. We put things in place for dangerous play and I can’t see what was dangerous about that.”
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