Leeds Rhinos aiming to pick up where they left off on Super League return, says Luke Gale

AFTER ALMOST five months of frustration, Leeds Rhinos have one ambition for tomorrow – to pick up from where they left off.

RARING TO RETURN: Luke Gale wants Leeds Rhinos to stay on track when they resume their season tomorrow. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe .

Leeds will resume their Super League season against Huddersfield Giants in a behind closed doors fixture at Headingley, 150 days after they last played.

That was an exuberant 66-12 demolition of Toronto Wolfpack which, briefly, lifted them top of the table and took their points tally from four successive wins to 176, with only 30 conceded.

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Rhinos were arguably the form team in the competition before coronavirus struck, though their two points – and the 54 they gained on for and against – from the Toronto game have since been deducted following the Canadian outfit’s withdrawal.

Leeds are still handily-placed in fourth, will move into pole position if they win tomorrow and are in buoyant mood ahead of their return, according to acting-captain Luke Gale.

He said: “We started off great and lockdown and Covid came at the wrong time, but the last few weeks have been fantastic.

“Our first session back was as sharp as any we did before lockdown. There’s only so much training you can do, the boys are ready to play and hopefully we can pick up where we left off.”

After so long without a game, Gale conceded all clubs are in a “strange situation” as rugby league comes back to life.

LAST TIME OUT: Brad Dwyer and Konrad Hurrell celebrate victory against Toronto. Picture: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com.

“It’s like we have done a whole pre-season and we are back again,” said the 32-year-old England half-back, who was Man of Steel when Castleford Tigers topped Super League in 2017.

“It is quite strange really, but we are a few games into the season and we are in a good spot.

“I think that’s the most important thing, we just have to do what we did before lockdown to carry on on that right track.”

The campaign will resume six months to the day after Leeds were beaten 30-4 by Hull in their opening game.

That followed a positive pre-season and with morale high in Rhinos’ camp, but Gale insisted: “That has not been mentioned at all, we got rid of that the week after.

“We were like a rabbit in the headlights that first game and we don’t want to start again like that. I am sure the boys won’t.”

The setback against Hull was Leeds’ only defeat so far and Gale felt it “gave us a kick up the backside”.

He added: “I know I was massively disappointed, but I still think a few things went against us that day.

“We won’t read too much into it, the boys are ready to go against Huddersfield and hopefully we will put in a good performance; I am sure we will with how we have been training.”

Gale captained Leeds in their final four games before coronavirus, after Stevie Ward was stood down with a long-term head injury.

Ward remains on Rhinos’ casualty list, along with full-back Jack Walker, but winger Tom Briscoe has recovered from the knee injury he suffered against Huddersfield a year ago tomorrow and Kruise Leeming is also in contention.

Leeming joined Leeds from Huddersfield last October, but has yet to play for his new club after suffering knee damage in a training session before Christmas.

The England Knights man will give Rhinos an added dimension, in tandem with their other hooker Brad Dwyer who signed a new two-year contract this week.

Gale said: “Obviously Kruise wants to put his mark down. He is a new player for Leeds and he is against his old club so there’s a couple of story lines in there.

“He has trained really well. He was training really well before his injury, but he has probably come back in better shape; he looks even fitter.

“Credit to him, I know he has worked really hard on his re-hab’ and he is looking sharp in training. I am excited to see him play.

“He brings something different to Brad and I think we’ve got two hookers at the top of their game and in their prime, so it’s exciting.”

New rules, which will speed up the game, come into force this weekend and Gale believes they will suit Leeds’ acting-halves.

“They are both sharp out of dummy-half,” he observed.

“They have both got that strong running game as well and I think they will complement each other.”

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