Leeds Rhinos' Ash Handley in line for Great Britain Test debut

Ash Handley training with the Great Britain performance squad.
Ash Handley training with the Great Britain performance squad.
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Leeds Rhinos winger Ash Handley has been called into the Great Britain Lions squad for next week's Test in Papua New Guinea.

Handley, Rhinos' 2019 player of the year in and joint-second top try scorer in Betfred Super League, will fly out to provide an additional backline option for the fourth and last game of Great Britain's tour on Saturday, November 16.

The 23-year-old played for England in the World Cup Nines last month and toured Papua New Guinea with England Knights a year ago.

His call up comes after ex-Leeds winger Ryan Hall and Wigan Warriors centre Oliver Gildart left the squad due to injury.

Lions coach Wayne Bennett had earlier indicated he would not be calling up a replacement for his injured backs.

Handley will not feature in Saturday’s Second Test against New Zealand at Orangetheory Stadium in Christchurch, but will join the squad as they prepare for the one-off Test against the Kumuls in Port Moresby.

Jamie Peacock, the Great Britain tour manager, said: “We’ve been considering our options since losing Ryan Hall last weekend and it makes sense for Ash to come out and join us in PNG.

“He had a good season with Leeds to earn his place in the Great Britain Performance Squad, which means he’s had all the necessary injections to come to PNG at short notice.

"He’s the sort of guy who will really appreciate and benefit from the experience of joining the senior squad and he will add to our options in an area where our plans have been affected by injury.”

Handley is the only Leeds player to receive a Lions call-up and had been due to begin pre-season with Rhinos next Monday.

Meanwhile, Leeds United's Elland Road Stadium will stage next year's second Ashes Test against Australia, on Saturday, November 7 (2.30pm).

The opener will be at University of Bolton Stadium on Saturday, October 31 (2.30pm) and the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, in north London, hosts the final match on Saturday, November 14 (5.30pm).