Leeds Rhinos Wheelchair will be looking to preserve their unbeaten home record and lock up top spot when they take on Halifax Panthers this Sunday (10:30am KO) in their latest Wheelchair Super League fixture at The Edge, University of Leeds.
The Rhinos are currently riding the crest of a six game winning streak in the Wheelchair Super League, as well as their victory in the Challenge Cup Final over French champions Catalans Dragons last month, but their Player-Coach James Simpson knows that his side’s job this season is far from done.
“We’re sitting top of the league at the moment but it’s still quite tight and we’re all fighting for those home fixtures in the play-offs,” said Simpson. “If we can finish top then we’ll play fourth at home in Leeds, so that’s a huge advantage for us to have at the business end of the season.
“They’re a good side Halifax and it’s always a competitive battle. A lot depends on who they have because they’ve flown in players from abroad this season which hurt us before, but we always say that we play what’s in front of us and we’re not afraid of any player or any team really. We’re looking forward to the challenge and we want to go out at home with a bang.”
This weekend’s visitors Halifax Panthers remain a force themselves in the Wheelchair game, with a great rivalry between the two teams extending back over the last decade which has seen them fight it out for supremacy in several Challenge Cup and Super League Grand Finals.
In the two meetings so far in 2022 the sides have split the series with one win each, but Simpson hopes that playing Halifax on home soil for the first time will give the Champions an edge- pardon the pun- on their neighbours in this weekend’s clash.
“Halifax have been one of our biggest rivals for a long time and a few years ago they were the most successful club in the game, so they’re always looking to get that mantle again.
“It’s our last home game of the season before the playoffs, so we want to make it a good one and ensure we maintain our unbeaten home record.
“We made the move this season to Leeds Beckett and The Edge which is where we’ll be this Sunday. We said from the start of the season we really wanted to make it feel like home and a bit of a fortress, so we’ve been quite proud of the fact that we’ve won every game we’ve played there and hopefully we can keep that in tact.”
Alongside their games, the Rhinos have been working hard to inspire the next generation of Wheelchair Rugby League players by inviting people to come down a try out the sport at their ‘Come and Try in July’ social sessions at Leeds Beckett University.
Attendees were give the chance to jump in a chair and learn the basics of how to play Wheelchair RL, with Simpson delighted at the response from the local community and left excited for what could come next.
“Honestly the Come and Try sessions have been amazing. I think the first one we did we had three or four turn up, then every week since we’ve managed to get another 10 or 11 new faces come through the door and there’s just been more and more people jumping in chairs and having a go.
“We’ve even had sessions where we’ve ran out of chairs to give them so we had to lend them our chairs to get people in there, so they’ve been absolutely fantastic. I’ve got no doubt that at the beginning of next year when the season starts we’ll have new players and a second team where we can play some development games and get people in chairs enjoying the sport, even if that’s to really get that fun side and community feel from it.
“Everyone’s left the sessions absolutely buzzing with big smiles and we’re really thankful to everyone who’s come down and got involved.”
Spectators are welcome to come down and cheer on Leeds Rhinos Wheelchair at The Edge this Sunday as they face Halifax Panthers in the Wheelchair Super League.
Leeds Rhinos v Halifax Panthers
Date: Sunday 31st July 2022
Kick-off: 10.30am (Hall available from 10.00am)
The Edge, University of Leeds
LS2 9JT(this postcode takes you to the main entrance of the University – the entrance to the Sports Centre is near the LGI A&E entrance – as a guide)
Car Park: light.yours.love
Alternative parking: regard.pardon.simple