Clock ticking for Burrell with double job to do at Leeds Carnegie

Luther Burrell is under no illusions that he is fighting on two fronts in the coming weeks and months ahead.

Namely doing his bit to inspire another Great Escape mission at Leeds Carnegie and earning himself some continued employment in the process.

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Now 23, Burrell knows the time is nigh to breach the divide between work-in progress and fully-fledged first-teamer, having shown some nuggets of genuine talent this term.

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Such as on Sunday afternoon when the Huddersfield-born centre capped an impressive hit-out in the "dead rubber" Amlin Challenge Cup 26-6 victory over Bucharest Oaks by grabbing a deserved try, after a decisive break had helped to set up replacement prop Miguel Alonso for another earlier in the second half.

And with the clock ticking regarding his future, Burrell is keen on adding a few more positive additions to his CV to bolster his hopes of a new deal, with his one-year-contract expiring in the summer.

The futures of 15 Carnegie players is currently up in the air, with big-hitters such as skipper Marco Wentzel and fly-half Ceiron Thomas seeing their deals expire alongside the likes of Henry Fa'afili, Gareth Hardy, Rhys Oakley and Burrell.

On his desire to remain at Headingley Carnegie, Burrell, who is eyeing a double figure try-haul come season's end, said: "That's the aim. It's a great club and I am out of contract this season, so I am fighting for next year's contract – and maybe the year after that.

"I know I need to keep playing well if I am to get one.

"I've managed to score five tries this season and that has helped my confidence and I feel I'm slowly developing into a more mature and experienced player.

"I'm working on my defensive game week-in, week-out with the defensive coach, but my main focus has been my attacking threat and my aim is to get into double figures on the try count."

While Carnegie's display against Romanian minnows Bucharest was largely fitful, Burrell fully justified his selection and gained some tangible reward when the plucky visitors started to tire.

And it's fair to say that coaching duo Neil Back and Andy Key will be seeking a little more rhythm and continuity in the attacking red zone from Carnegie's forthcoming outings with Gloucester and Northampton Saints as their side switches focus to the LV Cup – with the aim of hitting their straps in time for the return to serious business against Leicester Tigers in the Aviva Premiership on February 13.

Back and Key have made no secret of the fact that vibrant personal displays in the cup games with Bucharest, Gloucester and Saints will propel players into the box seat for selection against Tigers, which is very much Burrell's aim.

He said: "I had my opportunity at the start of this season and then lost it through injury. Then players such as Scott Barrow and (Henry) Fa'afili came in and it was always going to be tough to get my jersey back.

"Hopefully, my performance on Sunday will have helped my cause.

"The next two games will build us up for Leicester, which is going to be a really important game for us.

"They will have lost several international players and we will have lost a couple so it should make for quite an entertaining game and maybe an opportunity for us to beat them."

On Sunday's encounter, Burrell added: "It was a game in which we needed to get back on track after Stade Francais, where they ended up scoring five tries against us.

"But it was a stop-start game, to be honest. One thing we knew about them was that it was going to take us 60 or 70 minutes to break them down.

"They looked like a team who are on the up and they showed a lot of enthusiasm. They did well and did Rumanian rugby proud.

"We said before the game that we didn't want these guys scoring (a try) against us and at least we achieved that."

Leeds United head coach Thomas Christiansen. PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe

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