After two months of pre-season, Rhinos have lost stand-off Rob Lui and full-back Jack Walker to long-term injury.
Lui, 31, suffered a quad tear in training and will be sidelined for eight to 12 weeks.
Walker, 21, is likely to miss the entire season with a recurrence of the foot injury which wrecked his 2020 campaign.
Lui’s half-back partner Luke Gale was already in a race to be fit for round one, against Wakefield Trinity at Emerald Headingley on Saturday, March 27, after tearing a pectoral muscle in his first pre-season training session.
To add to the headache, Richie Myler - who successfully stood in for Walker last year - is also the most experienced potential replacement for Lui in the halves.
If he plays there, Ash Handley could switch to full-back with Luke Briscoe taking over on a wing, or Rhinos coach Richard Agar may opt for Callum McLelland, who underwent ankle surgery in the off-season, at stand-off, with Myler in the number one role.
Rhinos’ Director of Rugby Kevin Sinfield said: “We are disappointed for Rob and Jack as both players were keen to make a big impression this season.”
Lui - who is in the final year of his contract - was hurt two weeks ago and scans have now revealed the full extent of his injury.
Walker suffered a fractured foot a year ago this Friday and made a comeback towards the end of last season, but the problem has returned.
“Rob is progressing well with his rehab and will be back hopefully within three months,” Sinfield added.
“It is desperately sad news for Jack.
“He worked hard to return to playing last season, but the original correction to his foot has now failed.
“Along with Jack, we are speaking to the experts to find the best solution going forward to resolve the issue.
“Despite having been in the first team since 2017, Jack is still young and our medical staff will be working with him over the coming months to help him make a full recovery.
“Unfortunately, injuries are part of our game, but we will make sure Rob and Jack have all the support they need.”
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