Leeds Rhinos: Clarkson not wanting to play up front – just yet

Chris Clarkson.
Chris Clarkson.
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LOCAL LAD Chris Clarkson insists he doesn’t see a future for himself in Leeds Rhinos’ front-row – at least not yet.

The former East Leeds junior filled in as an emergency prop in Rhinos’ 18-18 draw with Wakefield Trinity Wildcats on Boxing Day.

He produced a strong performance, capped by a second half try, but admitted at 6ft 1ins tall and 15st 4lbs in weight he lacks the size needed by a modern front-rower.

“I think I’ll have to put a few kilos on, but hopefully I will stick to the second-row next year,” Clarkson reflected.

“I found out on the Monday that I was playing front-row, when Ryan Bailey dropped out.

“Originally I was going to play second-row, but Ian Kirke dropped out and I went to loose-forward and then Ryan Bailey dropped out so I went to prop.

“It was nice to score, especially a typical prop’s try – I was pleased with that.

“I played a bit like JP (Jamie Peacock) I think! He started as a back-rower and moved to prop.

“It is a possibility for the future, but I would have to put on a bit of weight.”

Bailey (Achilles) and Kirke (ribs) missed Boxing Day’s game due to injury, Brad Singleton was suspended and Leeds’ other senior front-rowers – veterans Peacock and Kylie Leuluai – weren’t risked.

Wherever he plays, Clarkson will be aiming for a big year in 2014.

“Last year I had a really good pre-season and I probably peaked too early,” he said.

“I want to play better and more consistently this year.”

Despite the last-gasp penalty which earned Wildcats a share of the Heatshot Festive Challenge Trophy, Clarkson felt Leeds’ opening pre-season game “went well”.

He said: “I thought what we’ve been doing in pre-season worked for us. We’ve been putting in some new stuff and I thought we did that pretty well and practice paid off.

“The young lads really stepped up, playing against a very strong Wakefield team and they really showed what they can do. Hopefully they will get a few games next year. Sutty and Foz (Liam Sutcliffe and Alex Foster) played last year and Mini (Elliot Minchella) has just signed a new deal so he will be coming on the scene soon.

“The young academy lads all did well, they were talking, they were loud and they seemed confident and they have got ability, so we’ve got a lot to choose from.”

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