Leeds Rhinos: Age won't be a Cross for me to bear says Ben

VETERAN Aussie Ben Cross reckons he can prop up Leeds Rhinos' pack for the next four years.

The former Newcastle Knights front-rower celebrated his 32nd birthday on December 6, but feels he has got plenty of gas left in the tank.

"It was one of the goals I wrote down at the start of my career, to come over here and play," Cross revealed ahead of his debut in the Boxing Day charity clash with Wakefield Trinity Wildcats.

"I still believe I've got plenty to offer. I've signed a two-year deal, but I would like to see myself here for three or four years."

Cross confirmed his ex-Newcastle Knights team-mate Danny Buderus was a major influence on his last-minute decision to join Rhinos, after he seemed poised to move elsewhere.

"I was trying to get over here to one of the top-four clubs all year," he said. "I was in talks with a few other clubs and then Leeds came in real late.

"After talking to Danny about the city and the fans and the club itself, I thought this was the place to be.

Seeing the calibre of players they have got here, it was a pretty easy choice to come to Leeds.

"I've spoken to Danny a bit by text message and I caught up with him in Newcastle when he was back.

"He has been looking forward to me coming over here, but we're pretty glad to get here before he and his wife get back, so we can get our own roots and get to know people on our own terms first."

Of Sunday's game, Cross – who arrived in England last Wednesday – said: "I will only have been here just over a week and I'll be playing, but it's not a bad way to dust off the cobwebs and get straight into it.

"I missed a fair bit of pre-season training. I was doing a bit with the Knights before I left, but then I had about a month at my parents-in-law's, just training on my own. You can only do so much, but now I am in a structured environment it is pretty good."

With England captain Jamie Peacock likely to be out of action until early summer, Cross will be handed a key role as one of Rhinos' pack leaders.

"I am not going to be putting too much pressure on myself," he said. "I am going to fit into the team, do my role and my job for the team, first and foremost.

"Ryan Bailey is recovering from groin surgery and he'll be back soon, along with a few others.

"If we can do a good job at the start of the season, then we get those guys back, we will be hitting our straps I think."

Cross has arrived in the middle of a big freeze, but he isn't moaning about the unfamiliar conditions.

"It has been all right – it's just a change, something different," he stressed. "That's why we came here, because we wanted a new challenge. I have definitely got that and the weather is all part of it.

"It is cold, but the good thing is the English guys are complaining too, so I am happy about that."

TOGETHER: Leeds United's fans show their support as the Whites show no signs of flagging against Middlesbrough. Picture by Jonathan Gawthorpe.

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