Red hot prospect Jamel Chisholm is set to make his Leeds Rhinos debut in the Heatshot Festive Challenge on Boxing Day.
Winger Chisholm, 19, will be aiming to impress coach Brian McDermott when he makes his first appearance for the engage Super League champions in the traditional Boxing Day derby against Wakefield Trinity Wildcats at Headingley Carnegie.
And he will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of fellow Academy products, Zak Hardaker and Ben Jones-Bishop, who both lined up in last year’s match and went on to finish the season as winners at Old Trafford.
With Hardaker and Jones-Bishop rested for the December 26 showdown because of their involvement in England’s Four Nations campaign, Chisholm, who is originally from Little London in Leeds, will be looking to lay down a marker after being promoted to the first team squad for Super League XVII.
The fleet-footed winger, who has has been back in pre-season training for six weeks, said: “Pre-season has been going really well so far and everyone is in good spirits.
“There have been a lot of us training together and that drives everyone on.
“There is a lot of competition for the wingers in the side but hopefully I can perform well on Boxing Day and show what I can offer the coaching staff.”
The former Lawnswood pupil is part of a new generation of players emerging at the Rhinos and he says that has helped the transition into the squad.
He said: “There a lot of players I have played with in my three years at the Academy who are now in the first team squad. That has helped to settle us all in but the first team guys are really welcoming as well.
“The success they have had has not changed them and they are always keen to give you a word of advice or ask you how you are getting on. There is a real family atmosphere within the club.”
Chisholm has twice been crowned Super League’s Fastest Man having won the annual challenge in 2009 and 2010 however an injury picked up playing for the Rhinos midweek Nines team meant he could not make it a hat-trick earlier this summer.
However, McDermott believes his pace could be a key asset as he looks to break into the first team squad this season.
“Jamel is a player who our Academy coaches have identified as having the potential to play at the highest level,” said McDermott.
“He has natural, physical ability but it will obviously take time for him to adapt to what is required in his position at Super League level. However, he has applied himself well at the start of pre-season and with Ben and Ryan both unavailable for the Wakefield game, he will get the first chance to impress.”
Tickets are now on sale for the Heatshot Festive Challenge from the Headingley Carnegie ticket office and from Wakefield’s Rapid Solicitors Stadium with discounts available for members if purchased prior to matchday.