Leeds prop Ryan Bailey cleared for play-off game
Last updated on .From the section Rugby League
Prop Ryan Bailey has successfully appealed against a one-match ban and been cleared to play in Leeds' Super League preliminary semi-final against Huddersfield on Friday night.
The 27-year-old had been found guilty of raising his knees in a tackle by Danny Tickle in Sunday's 42-10 play-off win over Hull at Headingley.
But Leeds coach Brian McDermott spoke up for Bailey at the appeal hearing.
And McDermott is delighted to have him available, given his recent form.
"I think he's been brilliant," said McDermott. "He's probably playing the best he has for a long while."
McDermott suggested that Bailey, 27, who won four caps for Great Britain in 2004, has played himself into contention for England's Four Nations team.
"He's got to be somewhere close internationally," said McDermott, who also won four caps for Great Britain between 1996 and 1998. "He's up there with some of the best props playing at the moment.
"If you are looking for someone who can advance the ball in very tough situations and get an offload away and create tries and also be very smart defensively, he's filling all those roles at the moment."
Bailey's Leeds team-mate Danny McGuire agreed, adding: "His form is worthy of an England call-up without a doubt.
"He's been awesome for the majority of the season. Sometimes I don't think he gets as much credit as he deserves.
"He plays the villain sometimes and I know the opposition fans get on his back, but the stuff he does for us has been fantastic this year."
Bailey, whose £300 fine from the Rugby Football League's disciplinary committee still stands, did serve a one-game ban back in April.
He was singled out for criticism by Huddersfield coach Nathan Brown when he was sent off for fighting with Kevin Brown against this Friday night's oppponents in Leeds' crushing 38-6 home defeat by the Giants at Headingley.
But he has become an integral member of the Rhinos side during their recent revival, having missed just one of their last 18 matches. According to McDermott, he has matured considerably since his last international appearance seven years ago.
"In the past he's probably wasted too much energy waving his arms about and gritting his teeth," added McDermott.
"But he's put that energy into tough carries and being a tough and smart defender. He's probably playing the best he has for a long while."