Rugby League - Leeds to consider options

Leeds will have to find a new full-back for Friday's World Club Challenge against Melbourne Storm after ruling out England international Zak Hardaker with a broken thumb.

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Rugby League - Leeds to consider options
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Zak Hardaker is expected to be sidelined for a month with a broken thumb

The 21-year-old is expected to be sidelined for a month with the injury he sustained in last Friday's 42-14 Super League win over Salford.

Rhinos coach Brian McDermott also confirmed at a press conference at Headingley that prop Ryan Bailey will be out after undergoing minor knee surgery, but that second rower Brett Delaney and prop Jamie Peacock will return after missing the Salford game through injury.

Centre Kallum Watkins, who switched to full-back against the City Reds, and Australian recruit Joe Vickery are among the list of possible alternatives for the full-back role. Vickery, 23, who was born in Exeter but raised in Australia, earned a 12-month contract with the champions after impressing in pre-season trials but damaged ankle ligaments on his debut in the opening game.

"We've a few options," McDermott said. "Kallum Watkins is one of them and Joe Vickery is in the mix after making a remarkable recovery."

Vickery, who was initially ruled out for six weeks, will be something of an unknown quantity for Melbourne, whose coach Craig Bellamy has been busy doing his homework on the utility back.

"I think he played lower-grade with St George in the NRL," Bellamy told the press conference. "I wasn't well versed with him back home but we've seen him in a couple of games over here."

It was also revealed at Monday's press conference that the shoulder charge will not be allowed in Friday's game after the International Federation decided to follow the Australians in scrapping the controversial tackle.

The Rugby Football League had agreed to defer any decision until the consultation process had been completed, but will now almost certainly follow the NRL's example later this week and ban the shoulder charge in Super League and the Championships.

Confirmation is expected from Australia overnight but McDermott told the press conference: "I don't think we've managed the shoulder barge that has gone wrong so, if they can't do that, just ban it. I don't think it goes on a lot in our game but, when it does go on, you are going to kill somebody nearly so let's scrap it."

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