LEEDS RHINOS are confident that their Headingley pitch will be in much better condition for their first home match of the season.
A youthful Rhinos team beat Championship neighbours Bradford Bulls at home the weekend before last in a pre-season game, but the state of the playing surface also drew attention.
The final 20 metres, plus the in-goal, in front of the western terrace were barren.
Three weeks earlier, Headingley had hosted the launch event for Leeds’ Year of Culture, called ‘The Awakening’, which featured a variety of artistic performances including music from singer Corinne Bailey Rae.
The stage erected on the pitch at that end of the ground had a marked effect, although the Rhinos’ head groundsman, Ryan Golding, said it was not as bad to play on as it looked from the sandy surface.
“After gauging feedback from players and coaches, it’s absolutely fine,” said Golding.
“It actually played really well. Aesthetically it doesn’t look the best, but the sand is on there for a reason and that’s to create a firm, stable surface for us to play expansive Rugby League on.”
The pitch will not be used again until Leeds’ first Super League home game of the new season, against Hull FC on February 24.
Golding is continuing to get it into the right condition in time.
“We’re having to repair it at the moment, and from the intricacies of the surface that we have here at Headingley, being fibre sand, the options to us for recovery are slightly narrowed,” he explained.
“Unfortunately, the rainfall that we had around that time (of the event) has had an effect, so it’s had to recover from that as well.
“In the lead-up to the Hull game, we’re highly confident that we will be in a much better place.”