LEEDS Rhinos’ Tom Briscoe has been ruled out of action for around three months with a shoulder injury.
The England international and 25-year-old former Hull winger, who missed just two matches in his first season with the Rhinos in 2014, will undergo surgery on Saturday after scans revealed the full extent of an injury he has been carrying for a few weeks.
“There’s a fair bit of damage in there,” said coach Brian McDermott. “He’s been good for us so we’ll miss him but it gives an opportunity for Ash Handley to get some more game time.
“He did okay against Wigan. The acid test for Ash will come in the coming weeks to maintain that level.”
Handley, 19, made only his second Super League appearance and scored his first try in Leeds’ 26-14 win over Wigan last Friday and keeps his spot for the trip to Perpignan to face Catalans Dragons on Saturday, while Liam Sutcliffe will continue to deputise for captain Kevin Sinfield, who is still recovering from a hamstring injury.
Another England international, Zak Hardaker, keeps his place pending the outcome of an investigation into an assault he committed on a student in Leeds in February.
“At some stage the club will make an announcement,” said McDermott. “I think it’s coming to its conclusion but we’re still on with it.”
Hardaker was dropped when the incident came to light earlier this month but recalled for the Wigan game and McDermott insists he is right to select the player, who was released by police without charge after paying compensation and issuing an apology to his victim.
“Zak gets paid to do a job,” McDermott added. “I know there is a sentiment from people out there who say ‘why is he still playing?’ but to stand Zak down doesn’t do him any good.
“If a bricklayer makes an error at work, you don’t give him time off. Why would we give Zak Hardaker the time off to live a decent lifestyle where he can do what he wants?
“He has to do a job for us. He is paid to do that job and he will go out and do it. I don’t feel that’s covering anything up.”