LEEDS Rhinos rookie Elliot Minchella feels he is getting to grips with life as a professional player.
The back-row, 18, made only his third senior appearance at Wakefield Trinity Wildcats last week and is again in the 19-man squad for tomorrow night’s home game with Hull KR.
An England Youth international who made a try-scoring debut at Salford last August, Minchella said: “I do feel more comfortable when I get the call now.
“I wasn’t as nervous (at Wakefield) as I have been in previous games but still feel I’m a long way off and obviously have a lot to learn. It was nice to get the nod to play, though.
“There’s been a few injuries and I’ve just tried to do what I’ve been doing all year for the 19s and repeat it for the first team.
“Hopefully I’ll get another chance against Hull KR.
“They are going well and come in off a great win against St Helens but if I get the nod I’ll give 110 per cent and there’s nothing better than playing in front of a packed house at Headingley.”
Bradford-born Minchella, who joined from Halifax amateurs Siddal, says training and playing alongside captain Kevin Sinfield and England second-row Jamie Jones-Buchanan has been crucial in his development.
“I speak to to Kev quite a bit,” he said. “He’s obviously a calming influence on me and he’s a great person to go to if you have a problem and have a chat.
“Jonesy is just a complete role model. I look up to Jonesy in everything he does. He’s constantly 100 per cent hard work and just an ultimate professional in my opinion.
“It’s great as a young player looking up to people like him.”
Minchella has been instrumental for Leeds’ Under 19s side as they forge their way up into the division’s top four.
He said: “It’s been tough. We lost a lot of players at the end of last year and a lot of new faces have come in. But we’ve really come together as a team and we’re challenging at the top which is good to see.
“Personally, I feel I’ve been playing well so I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing.”
Leeds will seek to bounce back tomorrow from their surprise loss at Wakefield. Coach Brian McDermott has also included England internationals Sinfield, Carl Ablett and Rob Burrow in his 19-man squad to face Hull KR.
Leeds Rhinos: from Jones-Bishop, Watkins, Moon, Hall, McGuire, Burrow, Aiton, Peacock, Ablett, Sinfield, Ward, Delaney, Bailey, Achurch, Briscoe, Sutcliffe, Minchella, Mulhern, Walters.
hull kr: from Burns, Carlile, Caro, Costigan, Eden, Green, Hall, D Hodgson, J Hodgson, Horne, Keating, Larroyer, Lovegrove, Netherton, Ollett, Salter, Walker, Welham, Weyman.