LEEDS RHINOS’ coach Brian McDermott has every faith in Liam Sutcliffe replacing Kevin Sinfield tonight – and has not ruled out a move for in-demand NRL forward Sam Rapira.
Rhinos’ captain Sinfield, 34, misses this evening’s game with Wigan Warriors through injury, meaning young understudy Sutcliffe gets a rare chance to help steer the side, and Danny McGuire takes over the captaincy.
“Kev’s got some hamstring/neural issue so he’s stood down for a week to let that recover,” said McDermott.
“He’s a fantastic player for us, very influential, so we will miss him, but what we’ve got out there is good enough, Liam Sutcliffe certainly shows a lot of promise and has delivered in the past.”
Kiwi prop Rapira, 27, has confirmed he will leave New Zealand Warriors at the end of the season to play in Super League.
With Leeds potentially in the hunt for front-rows, McDermott did not dampen speculation that they may be in the reckoning for the experienced international.
The Leeds coach said: “He’s someone on our list.
“It’s not that we’re not looking at him, but there’s a few clubs interested in him.”
He will give a second appearance to another prop Andy Yates tonight, the forward who joined from Hunslet Hawks at the end of 2013 but saw his debut campaign ruined by injury.
Staying on the prop line, Wigan will be without three of theirs with Ryan Sutton joining Dom Crosby on the injured list and Ben Flower still suspended.
Warriors beat Hull FC last week after a woeful loss at Castleford, but coach Shaun Wane said: “It was one win and it wasn’t a great win. If we win our next four games I’ll start to think we’ve turned the corner.
“There’s quite a bit of history between us and Leeds and a healthy respect.
“We’ve had some real tough games over the last few years. Leeds at Leeds is one of the toughest you can get.”
Ex-Huddersfield Giants hooker Keal Carlile, 25, has joined Sheffield Eagles until the end of 2016.
The Bradford Bulls academy product was released by Hull KR earlier this week.