MATCH-WINNER LIAM Sutcliffe says he wants to be one of Leeds Rhinos’ starting half-backs, but insists he is happy to play wherever coach Brian McDermott puts him.
After two games at stand-off, Sutcliffe was among the substitutes against Salford Red Devils last Friday and came off the bench to score the winning try in the final moments.
The 22-year-old has filled a number of roles since breaking into Leeds’ senior team in 2013 and stressed: “I would like to start at half-back every game.
“But if I have to fill in other roles, it’s all about the team at the end of the day and I’ll do anything for this club and this set of lads.
“I will come in training this week and all I can do is train well and go from there.
“It is up to Mac, but I will be really training hard and trying to put my hand up.”
Though Sutcliffe has played mainly in the backs – at full-back and centre as well as stand-off – his size and running game could be suited to the back-row and he is listed in Rhinos’ official handbook as a loose-forward.
Rhinos have doubts over Jamie Jones-Buchanan (foot) and Stevie Ward (hamstring) for Thursday’s derby at Castleford Tigers, but of the prospect of moving into the pack, Sutcliffe said: “I am not too sure. We will see what happens this week.
“Whatever role I play I will take it with both hands.”
Sutcliffe shrugged off his own contribution to the 20-14 win over Salford.
He said: “I was happy with the try, I just managed to be there at the right time and get over.
“To come on and score at the end was pretty good, but it was just important to get the win.
“It wasn’t our best performance by a long way, but we got the two points and we’ll be looking to fix a lot of things up for this week.”
Sutcliffe also made a key contribution in the previous week’s 17-14 success at Leigh Centurions, striking a drop goal on the stroke of half-time and landing a relieving 40-20 kick when Leeds were under huge pressure in the second half.
“It’s only the third game of the year and I will grow in confidence with each game,” the former Hunslet Warriors junior said.
“I’m just looking to keep working hard in training and hopefully get a bit of form going.”
Rhinos have now won 13 of 16 games since last June and Sutcliffe reckons they are getting better every week.
“I think it came from the back end of last year,” he said. “We really started to hit some form then and we went into pre-season very determined. Everyone ripped in from the very first day and we are hoping to have a massive year this year.”
Leeds’ defence has been impressive at the start of the campaign, conceding only 34 points in three matches and Sutcliffe felt last Friday was their best attacking performance so far.
“It was a step in the right direction,” he said. “There’s still a lot more we can do in attack.
“The defence, our forwards especially, has been immense so far this year. We’ve worked really hard and hopefully we can put a few things right in attack now and go from there.”
It took Leeds until the middle of March to record two Super League wins last year and Sutcliffe believes they can be satisfied with their start.
“Obviously we’d have liked to win at Saints in round one,” he said. “That didn’t happen, but we are happy with the two wins from three and hopefully we can kick on and be ready to go on Thursday against Castleford. We will have a big week’s training. Cas are looking really good this year and they have done for the last couple of years.
“We know we are in for a very tough game. The last time we played them they pumped us by 50 so hopefully we can turn that around this week and get a win.”
Meanwhile, full-back Kiedan Hartley scored five tries for Rhinos under-19s in a 34-22 win at Widnes Vikings.
Prop forward Owen Trout also crossed the whitewash and scrum-half Tom Schofield kicked five goals.