Cross-code forward Josh Walters has added weight to his bid to establish himself in Super League.
Walters, 20, has come off the bench in Leeds Rhinos’ last two matches and was hoping to retain his place in the squad for Friday’s visit of Hull KR.
The First Utility Super League defeat at Widnes Vikings two weeks ago was his first appearance of 2015, after he played nine times – scoring three tries – in his debut campaign last year.
And Walters admitted it has taken time for him to get back into his stride this season, after bulking up to compete against rival top-flight packs.
“It’s nice to get a couple of games in the first team,” said Walters, who joined Rhinos from their Carnegie rugby union sister club in 2013.
“It has been a funny one for me this season. It was a surprise for me to get in the first team last year and this year I’ve had to put on a bit of weight and size to be where I want to be.
“This season for has been about adapting to playing at that size, but it is unbelievable playing for Leeds, especially at Headingley, which is my favourite ground ever.
“It is great to play in front of the Leeds fans, home or away and hopefully I’ll get more chances to do that.”
Walters played for Rhinos in pre-season and began the year on dual-registration with Leeds’ Kingstone Press Championship partner club Hunslet Hawks.
“I’ve played a few games there, but I’ve struggled with injuries for a couple of months,” he added.
“So to get a chance in the first team, I am over the moon. I just have to keep doing what I’m doing to keep knocking on the door.
“I’d like to get a few more games, but at the moment it’s just about adapting. I am seven kilos heavier than I was last season, so I have got to get used to that.
“It takes a while and it doesn’t help that I’ve had a couple of niggly injuries as well. I was going well before the injuries kicked in.”
Dual-registration is a controversial system, but Walters insisted it has helped him make the transition from rookie to experienced rugby league player.
“Ideally I’d like to be playing in the Leeds first team,” he said.
“But I’m not knocking the fact I’ve played at Hunslet, I have loved every minute I’ve played there.
“Obviously if that’s going to help me get into the first team at Leeds, that’s what I’ll do.”
The Championship is a tough league, including full-time sides Leigh Centurions, Bradford Bulls and London Broncos.
“I know there’s a bit debate about whether dual-registration is a good idea or not,” Walters admitted.
“But from my point of view it has done me a lot of favours this year. Barry Eaton (Hunslet’s coach) is on Leeds’ coaching staff and Mac (Rhinos boss Brian McDermott) comes and watches the games. It is a league below and it might be a bit slower, but it’s just as – if not more – physical, so it has done me a world of good playing at Hunslet this season.”