Brian McDermott says the loss of Jamie Peacock will give some of the Leeds youngsters a chance to shine
Last Updated: 20/05/13 7:32pm
Brian McDermott: Leeds boss is backing his young Rhinos
Leeds coach Brian McDermott believes there is enough depth in his squad to cover the loss of Jamie Peacock and Carl Ablett.
The Rhinos face St Helens in the first live Monday night Super League match of the season at Headingley tomorrow without the services of their influential skipper, who is set for a two-month absence with a knee injury.
Second-rower Ablett is one of Leeds' unsung heroes and he is facing a similar lay-off with a broken bone in his hand.
"We're going to miss JP's presence. He's not just a leader off the field, some of the things he does with the ball are amazing."
But rather than dwell on the absence of two of his key performers, McDermott is hoping some of his younger charges will seize their chance to impress in the senior squad, with teenager Liam Sutcliffe poised to make his debut against Saints.
"We're going to miss JP's presence," McDermott said. "He's not just a leader off the field, some of the things he does with the ball are amazing.
"The whole team are going to have to pick up the slack and it's the same with Carl Ablett, who has been a quiet operator for us this year.
"He's one of those blokes you don't realise how good he is until he's missing. He's very good defensively and he gets people away in the line.
"These things happen. There will be chances for a couple of young fellas and the team that takes the field on Monday will be more than capable."
Saints have had the benefit of a 16-day break due to their early exit from the Challenge Cup this season and coach Nathan Brown is hoping that will give them an edge as they bid to end a five-match losing run.
"The players have come back energetic," he said. "We have been able to train together and do things as a squad.
"We haven't been able to do that for a long time and now we can as we have people healthy enough to do things.
"We don't want to be out of the cup but you have to try and take the positives.
"To freshen players up who have played a lot of footy and get players back is a good thing and now we can look at the second half of the season."