Leeds Rhinos star set out to be for a minimum of four weeks as Rohan Smith speaks on Ash Handley, Harry Newman, Kruise Leeming and Castleford Tigers

LEEDS RHINOS head coach Rohan Smith has given a squad update ahead of this week’s clash against Castleford Tigers on Thursday night.

Leeds ran out 26-0 winners against Wakefield Trinity last Friday but face local rivals Castleford, who are winless.

However, Smith has confirmed that Ash Handley will not play and could be out for over a month after suffering an injury against Trinity.

“Ash is a lateral ankle ligament which is not great but it’s not the worst it could have been. We are looking at a four to six week type injury,” Smith said.

“Ash has been playing well and being real quality leader and a real part of our how we endeavour to play our footy. He is really a key part of our team, for sure.”

Smith also explained that Harry Newman will play in place of Handley after the former made his first appearance of the season against Wakefield.

“Newman is there and ready to go. He pulled up fine which he should after a 25-minute hit up. It’s ab out progressive overload and gradually building up his demand on the field.

“He can get a lot of work done out of the game but there’s nothing quite the same as game day exertion. He is a unique athlete so that is a priority for us.”

Leeds will also have last year’s captain Kruise Leeming at his disposal after a fortnight out with injury.

“It seems his foot has settled quite well so we will see how everything is after today’s session. It’s earlier than we first thought on the evening but we thought it wouldn’t be too far away once it had settled.”

Smith also gave his thoughts on Castleford, who have yet to win in 2023.

“They are a very experienced team that I’ve watched for a number of years that have been very good players. That’s my only area of interest at this point that my players are prepared to play a good team.

“Confidence is extremely temporary, it is what you tell yourself. They’ve got a lot of players that have been there and done it before. I’m expecting them to compete hard and throw a lot at us.”