Young prop Jordan Baldwinson reckons Leeds Rhinos’ dual-registration agreement with Featherstone Rovers will be good for both clubs.
Baldwinson, 21, is back at Leeds after spending last year – when he was named Kingstone Press Championship young player of the year – at Featherstone.
He is hoping to break into Rhinos’ First Utility Super League side this season, but could return to Featherstone on dual-registration when not selected.
Baldwinson played for a second-string Rhinos side in a 32-16 defeat at Rovers two days ago and was impressed by his old team.
He said: “I have really enjoyed pre-season and it has gone really well. I am feeling fit and strong and it was good to get a few minutes on Sunday.
“I managed to get some good game time against my former club. I am happy with how my game time went, but the game could have gone a lot better for us.
“We were fighting a lot of lost rucks and they were getting some line speed and bashing us. Fair play to Featherstone, they played a really good game.
“They looked really strong and I would say they are looking a lot stronger than they were last year.”
He added: “With Jon Sharp taking over, they have been building really well this pre-season and they’re looking in good shape.
“I would say it’s a good plus that Leeds have joined up with Featherstone on dual-registration and maybe if we can add a few of our boys into their mix they will only get stronger.”
Rhinos begin the defence of their Super League title in two days’ time, when Warrington Wolves visit Headingley.
Baldwinson is at the back of a long queue for front-row spots and knows he must be patient this season.
“I will have to bide my time and if I get my chance I will have to play well,” he said.
“There’s some great players in front of me. I understand that and I have got to wait my turn.
“If it means coming back down to Featherstone to play and getting some game time and some good minutes under my belt, fair enough. I love that club, it is a great club, so I would not mind that.
“I am just looking forward to the season to see how it pans out and if I get my chance, then I get it.”
Baldwinson knows his first-team opportunities will depend on other players’ form and fitness.
He said: “Touch wood there are no major injuries, but if I do get a chance I have got to take it with both hands.
“I am just looking forward to getting a crack, and if I do, I have to do my best and see where that takes me.
“I am learning all the time. I learned a lot from the other boys when we were [on a training camp] in Florida and I feel I got a bit closer to them.
“I am picking little things up here and there and I feel a lot sharper training around people like Keith Galloway and Adam Cuthbertson.
“It is all positives at the moment and fingers crossed I have a really good season and kick on from last year.”
Baldwinson could be involved in the on-field action this coming Sunday when Rhinos’ fringe players and under-19s travel to Championship One team Doncaster.