New Leeds Rhinos signing Darrell Griffin believes he has joined the “Manchester United of rugby”.
Oxford-born Griffin started pre-season training with Rhinos this week following his recent move from Huddersfield Giants.
The prop, who began his professional rugby league career with Wakefield Trinity Wildcats, believes Giants are a club on the up, but insisted the chance of joining one of the game’s established powerhouses was too good to turn down.
“Huddersfield are still building and they are going to be a force in the future,” Griffin predicted.
“Their facilities are fantastic, but joining Leeds it is like being at the Man United of rugby. It is incredible, the whole set-up. The facilities they have got at the training ground at Kirkstall are state of the art, it is brilliant and I am settling in great.”
Rhinos’ only two senior signings so far have both been props, Griffin and Richard Moore from Crusaders.
They will be battling for spots in the front-row with Jamie Peacock and Ryan Bailey, who are are currently on England duty, as well as Kylie Leuluai, Ian Kirke and youngster Brad Singleton.
Griffin insisted he is relishing the rivalry and he added: “They are the champions and just talking about my position alone there’s loads of lads I’ll be competing against to get a spot.
“Hopefully over the next few months I can set a marker for myself and put my name forward for the team.
“I am going to have to fight for my place, but that is healthy competition to have. You don’t want to just walk into any team.
“I am sure it is good for the lads who are playing for England to have lads like me and Richie Moore coming in – and the young lads who are here already.
“That’s what you really need. If you have eight or nine blokes fighting for those four positions it keeps everyone on their toes and the intensity is always going to be there at training.”
Griffin’s final appearance for Giants was against Rhinos in the Engage Super League play-offs on September 23.
He said: “You get to the time – after about the four or five week mark – when you start getting bored at home.
“My body felt right to come in and I feel pretty good. I have had a good six weeks off and I am feeling refreshed and ready to go.
“It feels a bit weird, like starting school again. You have to get to meet everybody and get to know everyone, but I am really enjoying myself.”
Griffin and Moore are both set to make their debut against Wakefield in the Boxing Day Heatspot Festive Challenge.
“That’s bang in the middle of pre-season,” Griffin said. “I don’t think everybody will be quite ready to play, it’s still more than a month off the first game and fitness might not be there.
“But any game I get to play I look forward to and it’ll be excited to play my first game for Leeds. I’ll want to give the Leeds fans something to look at.”
Meanwhile, former Rhinos star Keith Senior is planning to continue his Super League career next season, despite posting a message on social networking site Twitter describing yesterday as “the end of an era”.
Senior was referring to the loss of his No 4 jersey, which has been handed to Zak Hardaker.
Leeds have offered Senior a pay-as-you-play contract, but he is in discussions with other top-flight clubs.
Rhinos have announced five more squad numbers of next season, with Luke Ambler wearing 26, new signing Luke Briscoe 27, Jamel Chisholm 28, Jared Stewart 29 and Daniel Smith 30.