POWERHOUSE Weller Hauraki is itching to get stuck into his long-awaited Leeds Rhinos debut, writes Peter Smith.
But coach Brian McDermott has warned the Kiwi forward to keep cool when he runs on to the field at Hull’s KC Stadium tonight.
The former Crusaders back-rower signed for Rhinos last November, but was only cleared to play on Tuesday morning when his visa arrived from the UK Border Agency.
Hauraki was a spectator at last Sunday’s 32-28 Millennium Stadium win over Bradford Bulls and he admitted: “I am very happy now, but I am very frustrated at how long it has taken.
“It took me a week and a half to get a visa when I was in Australia, but I am in this country now and it has taken a lot longer. I am just looking forward to getting started now. I can’t wait to put the Leeds jersey on and get out there, because it has been a long time.
“I watched half of Hull’s game last week and they are a good team, but I think we should do well against them.”
McDermott predicted Hauraki will “enhance our competition and enhance our club”, but he stressed: “We have to be careful we don’t expect too much from Weller – and he doesn’t expect too much from himself.
“He will have the frustration of missing the pre-season games and the first league match pent up inside him and he has got to be careful he doesn’t go out too hard and blow his own legs off in the first 10 minutes.”
The Leeds coach is looking for a more complete performance tonight, after seeing his side stage a thrilling late rally five days ago.
Rhinos trailed 28-10 at the end of the third quarter and McDermott said:“The final 20 minutes last week was a result of the players’ hard work for a lot of years and their cohesion with each other.
“But they can’t rely on that every week or go into games expecting that to happen. They have got to be a bit better than they were and lay a better platform.
“That allows some of your better players to perform in the final 20. Apart from the first 15 and the last 15 last week, I thought we were a bit ropey and a bit scratchy in defence.”
Of Hull, McDermott said: “I saw most of their game (a 34-22 loss to Hull KR) last week. They started off very well and looked very threatening with ball in hand.
“It fell away for them a bit and they won’t be happy with what they produced for the final 60 minutes. They will be an angry team and they’ll want to get back on the horse.
“They are a really strong side and you have to be on your mettle, but we have got things to work on and we’ll focus on getting our house in order. I think we’ll be doing that for at least a month, until we are happy with our combinations and the style we are playing, especially in defence.”