Maths whiz Michael Coady is determined to prove he is a useful addition to Leeds Rhinos' squad.
After a "disappointing" debut year as a full-time player, Coady reckons he is finally getting to grips with the 13-a-side code and life at one of the country's top clubs.
A former rugby union player, Bristol-born Coady joined Rhinos at the
start of last season with only nine games of league under his belt, for lower-division Doncaster.
He signed for Featherstone Rovers on dual-registration in a bid to gain first team experience, but failed to make an impact in their side which topped the Co-op Championship table, scoring two tries in six starts and one appearance off the bench.
He has a strike-rate of three tries in two first team games for Rhinos, after crossing for a hat-trick in the big Carnegie Challenge Cup win over Blackpool Panthers in May, but has entered 2011 knowing he needs to show his team-mates he is worthy of his place alongside them in the senior squad.
Tomorrow's pre-season game at Featherstone Rovers offers Coady, who will start in the centres, an opportunity to illustrate how far he has come since his below-par spell there last term.
"I had a bit of a disappointing year last year," Coady – a qualified maths teacher – admitted. "Coming into the start of this pre-season I was looking forward to it and I have been enjoying myself in training.
"I'm looking forward to the year. I think last year was a bit of a shock to the system. I didn't really bed in that quickly, I took my time to adapt.
"I was surrounded by players I idolised and it was a bit weird for me, but having been here a year now I am used to it and I know what I'm doing.
"I didn't do myself justice at Featherstone and I don't think I did myself justice last year, to be honest.
"That was the annoying thing, I knew coming off pitches that I hadn't done myself justice – in games or the season in general.
"That's what this season is about. I need to prove to people that I am a decent player. I need to prove that I am worth my place in the squad, I know that and I know I am capable of doing it. I just need to prove it on the pitch."
Coady insisted he hasn't targeted a particular number of first team appearances this year.
"I just want to prove my worth," he said. "I want to push for the first team, obviously, but I don't want to stick numbers on it."
Coady has played in both Rhinos' trial games so far, coming on as a substitute against Wakefield Trinity Wildcats on New Year's Day and scoring a try – on the right wing – when Leeds beat Hunslet Hawks last weekend. Coach Brian McDermott praised his performance last week and the player himself said: "Training is going well, but I just need to get game time.
"Last week was all right. The game petered out in the second half, but in the first half I thought I was all right and it was good to grab a try; that was a good team try, there was some good hands in the build-up."
Tomorrow's game will represent a step up in class, with Rovers set to field their strongest-available line-up.
Coady said: "I know most of the lads there, they are a good bunch of lads.
"I'm looking forward to playing against them, but the only point I have to prove is that I am actually a decent player.
"It's not about sticking two fingers up at Featherstone or anything like that.
"It should be a good game. Featherstone are a decent side and they came close to winning their comp last year.
"We are treating them with respect, we are putting out a decent team."
Featherstone Rovers: from Hardman, Powell, Smeaton, Worthington, Saxton, Kain, Finn, Tonks, Kaye, Dickens, Grayshon, Spears, Dale, Haley, Divorty, Welham, Hardaker, Bostock, Davey, Dee, Hemingway.
Leeds Rhinos: Jones-Bishop, Smith, Coady, Watkins, Hall, Ward, Kettlewell, Bailey, McShane, Kirke, Clarkson, Pitts, Casey. Subs Hood, Amor, Stewart, plus three to be named.
Referee: Richard Silverwood (Mirfield).
Kick-off: Tomorrow, 3pm.