Leeds Rhinos v Catalans Dragons: Snowed-off game reset for summer showdown

LEEDS RHINOS are likely to have to wait until June to play their delayed Betfred Super League round-four game at home to Catalans Dragons.

Leeds Rhinos chief exec' Gary Hetherngton. PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe

The match, scheduled for tonight, was called off yesterday morning.

Rhinos have rejected the possibility of playing tomorrow or on Sunday and are set to rearrange the game for June, when Super League takes a break for an international weekend.

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The Rugby Football League confirmed this week England will play New Zealand in Colorado, in the United States, on Saturday, June 23.

Injured Leeds forward, Nathaniel Peteru. PIC: Bruce Rollinson

Several Leeds players could be involved in the mid-season Test, but there are no Super League fixtures planned for that weekend, and Rhinos chief executive Gary Hetherington said: “It is likely to be rescheduled for when England play in Denver.

“That is the only other free weekend we have got.”

Rhinos had been confident earlier in the week the game could beat the weather, but heavy overnight snow into yesterday meant they were fighting a losing battle. Emerald Headingley has undersoil heating which means the pitch would have been playable, but other areas of the stadium could not be cleared.

Hetherington said: “The pitch is covered in snow at the moment, but it would be okay.

Rising star, Mikolaj Oledzki. PIC: Bruce Rollinson

“The rest of the stadium is surrounded by thick snow and it’s pointless trying to move it because it’s just iced up.

“We had Gerry Kershaw from the RFL here [yesterday] and the safety team and they have determined it was impossible to get the game played.”

The early decision prevented Catalans setting off from the south of France.

Hetherington added: “They were due to fly into Leeds-Bradford on Thursday lunchtime, but the airport was closed and that was another issue.”

Injured Leeds forward, Nathaniel Peteru. PIC: Bruce Rollinson

Meanwhile, Hetherington says Rhinos will not rush into replacing Aussie forward Keith Galloway.

The 32-year-old prop was released this week and has joined Australian lower-grade club Oakdale Workers, who play in New South Wales’ Group 6 competition.

Galloway joined Rhinos from Wests Tigers in 2016, but suffered two separate season-ending Achilles injuries and played only 43 games for Leeds. He was contracted until the end of 2018 and had been expected to return to the side next month, but has been allowed to leave for family reasons. Asked if Rhinos will sign another front-rower, chief executive Gary Hetherington said: “We may do.”

He stressed: “We did sign Nathaniel Peteru, who is number 21 in the squad. His signing was prompted by the knowledge we would be without Keith Galloway, one of our big men, for a large chunk of the season. He was signed on the basis of filling in for Keith until he was fit and then competing for places, but unfortunately Nathaniel has now got a long-term injury himself.

Rising star, Mikolaj Oledzki. PIC: Bruce Rollinson

“We started the season pretty well off for prop-forwards, but we went into the Melbourne game without five of them. It’s a position you can’t have enough of and Keith finishing early has given us a bit of flexibility to do something should someone crop up.”

But Hetherington added: “We are not desperate to sign someone. We have quite a number of props in the squad and there is the emergence of Mikolaj Oledzki as well. It may be that when we get everybody back fit we can manage with what we’ve got and it may be some other position crops up through the course of the season.

“We are not rushing into anything, we will see what’s available and if anyone crops up who can strengthen the squad for this season we will be able to advance that.”