Leeds Rhinos star Chris Clarkson gives his view from the pitch.
SATURDAY’S game against St Helens is an anniversary for me.
It’ll be a year since I made my first-team debut, on the wing against Hull KR.
We lost that one, so hopefully it’ll be a happier evening 12 months on.
The year seems to have gone really quickly and I think I’ve come a long way in that time.
The experience on the field has helped me more than anything, the game time has pushed me on a lot further than if I had just been training and playing in the under-20s.
This time last year I was hoping for maybe three games, so it has been great that I have had so many.
I played 18 last year – including Wembley – and I’ve done four so far this season, so I feel part of the squad now, even though I have still got a long way to go.
I am a lot better player than I was a year ago. Training full-time has helped me a lot and you can’t help but learn and improve when you are surrounded by so many good players and coaches.
I have put some size on and I am a bit faster than I was when I was part-time and I can also read the game a lot better.
Personally, I think this season is going well for me and we are getting better as a team. We are still in a transitional phase with a new coaching staff having come in.
We are still learning new plays, but things are going good. I am really enjoying myself and all the lads are enjoying the expansive rugby we are playing at the minute.
We had a good win over Salford last week and hopefully we can click now and kick on. Last week was a lot better than the previous games and we want to keep pushing forward.
We have got Saints on Saturday and that’s going to be a tough game, so obviously we can’t take our foot off the gas.
It is always a good game between Leeds and Saints. A lot of good rugby is played and with the expansive style both teams have, it should be good to watch.
A lot is being made of our injuries, but in-house we aren’t really speaking about that. Hopefully we will have a few players back this week, but injuries are part of rugby.
We have got a lot of depth in our squad and it’s at times like this that it counts.
People who come in can all do a job.
I got my opportunity last year because of injuries and it was the same for Brad Singleton last week. He has done really well.
He started with us last winter, but he had a wrist injury and he missed a lot of pre-season. He has come in, he has been running hard in training and he has been putting his hand up and showing Brian Mac what he can do.
I have watched quite a few games so far this season and the standard in Super League has impressed me.
Everybody seems to have strengthened and it is looking like being a really good competition. Willie Mason is here now and that will give Hull KR a boost and should create some headlines.
We play them next month and I am looking forward to that. He is a big unit, but I hope I get a chance to play against him.
He is a big name in the game and he’s somebody I would love to test myself against.