THIS SEASON has exceeded expectations for Leeds Rhinos as a team and rookie Super League forward Jack Ormondroyd in particular.
Ormondroyd was signed a year ago from Featherstone Rovers and has spent much of 2017 on loan at his old club.
But the 36-12 win at Huddersfield Giants four days ago was his sixth game for Leeds and Ormondroyd admitted that is more than he expected.
“Originally when I signed I was expecting to go back to Featherstone on loan quite a bit,” said the 25-year-old who had not played in the top-flight before this year.
“I played a bit at the start of the season for Leeds and it made me want to play regularly.
“It was good to get out there again (on Friday) and get a few minutes under my belt.
“I hadn’t played for Leeds since back near the start of the season, apart from the Wigan game.
“I found out I was playing on Thursday morning and it was a bit of a surprise, but I think if someone had told me at the start of the season I’d play six games I’d have been happy.”
Rhinos coach Brian McDermott will name his 19-man squad for Friday’s semi-final against Hull tomorrow afternoon and Leeds are likely to be without back-rower Brett Delaney, who suffered a hamstring injury against Huddersfield.
That could open the way for Ormondroyd to at least keep his place in the initial group, but he reckons simply being around a team preparing for a play-off - and possibly the Grand Final - will provide priceless experience.
If someone had told me at the start of the season I’d play six games I’d have been happy.Leeds Rhinos’ Jack Ormondroyd
“It is a shame for Brett because he has been playing well,” Ormondroyd said.
“He had a bad injury a few months ago in both his knees.
“Hopefully, he’ll be able to get back in and play in the next couple of games because he is massive for the team.
“From my point of view it would be really good to play, but I’ll just have to see what happens.
“You never know - hopefully I’ll be in the squad, but getting to the semi-final is what dreams are made of - especially after last year.”
Leeds have improved seven places after finishing ninth in 2016 and ending the year fighting for their Super League lives in the Qualifiers.
Ormondroyd added: “For the same squad, barring one or two, to get to the semi-final and do what what they’ve done already this year is amazing really. Hopefully, we can get into the Grand Final and win it, but to go from fighting against relegation last year to where we are now is testament to all the boys.”
Despite finishing second in the table, Rhinos have flown under the radar this term and Ormondroyd reckons that suits them.
Most of the focus is on league leaders Castleford Tigers and on Hull’s bid to do the double and the big forward said: “That’s good for us, it takes the pressure off us a bit.
“I think all the pressure is on Castleford really because everyone expects them to win.”