Hull agree to step in and face Leeds despite coronavirus problems of their own

Hull agreed to replace Castleford as Leeds’ opponents for Thursday night’s Betfred Super League fixture despite being without 12 players themselves, the club have revealed.

Castleford suggested they would not be able to play the match after being left with just 14 players through injury and the knock-on effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Tigers, who had three players test positive for Covid-19 and stood down six others as a result of track and trace, offered to check on the fitness of three of their 11 injured players on the morning of the match in an effort to fulfil the fixture.

However, the decision was taken out of their hands on Wednesday night when Hull, who were without a fixture following Toronto Wolfpack’s withdrawal from Super League, agreed to a request from Super League to take their place for the game at Headingley.

The Black and Whites say they too have had a positive Covid-19 test this week which has meant a further three players being stood down through track and trace protocols.

The club also have eight players missing through injury but a spokesman said: “After extensive consultation with the club’s coaching staff and senior players group, they have come to a unanimous decision to fulfil the fixture for the good of the sport.

“Despite the short notice, the players and staff have recognised and understand first-hand the challenges that Covid-19 presents and they believe this is a time for the sport to remain unified.

“The club stand by their decision and we are extremely proud of their commitment and dedication to the sport.”

Super League executive chairman Robert Elstone said: “Super League clubs have responded exceptionally well to the challenges presented by Covid-19 and Hull FC have provided another example of this here.

“By stepping in to fulfil a fixture at such short notice they are a credit to the competition and we appreciate the level of inconvenience the club has faced in meeting this request.”

Wigan have also had three positive Covid-19 tests this week and the Rugby Football League is expected to publish a full list on Thursday.