Shooting star Liam Sutcliffe wants to take his Leeds Rhinos career to a new level in the Super League play-offs.
But he insists he will have no complaints if he has to step down from the team as the defending champions get back to near full-strength.
Sutcliffe has played 15 successive games since injuries began to bite back in May, but – other than Stevie Ward – Rhinos’ casualties are now all back in contention and the teenager knows he could have to make way.
The stand-off or loose-forward has been named in Rhinos’ initial 19-man squad for tomorrow’s qualifying play-off at Warrington Wolves.
He reckons playing in the post-season series will be a big step up, but insisted he is not taking his place in the side for granted. “It has been one to remember, getting 15 games in a team like Leeds Rhinos has been a dream come true,” he said of his season so far.
“It is just going to get more intense from now on and there’s more at stake coming into the play-offs. We want to retain our trophy, so obviously Mac (coach Brian McDermott) is going to be picking his best team, the one he thinks can win the Grand Final.
“No matter what his decision I will always be there, backing the team up. All I can do is train hard during the week and if I get picked at the end of the week I’ll put everything into that game, so hopefully I can get picked again the week after.
“I am just going to take it week by week and see how things go. I’m not taking anything for granted. I am only 18 and we’ve got nearly everyone back from injury.
“I can’t complain if he chooses someone else. He has given me an opportunity this year and I am very grateful for that.”
Whatever happens over the next month, the former Hunslet Warriors junior said his season has exceeded expectations.
“My aim was to get one game in the first team, but I didn’t really think I’d get any,” he admitted.
“To get 15 is way past my expectations. The players have all looked after me and even when I wasn’t playing they’d come up to me and offer advice.
“They’ve all be very helpful and that has improved my game week in and week out.
“Kev (Sinfield), Rob (Burrow) and Danny (McGuire) have been there and done everything, they play in the same position as me and I look up to them.
“Any advice they can give, I just try to take it on board and improve my game from watching them or speaking to them.”
Sutcliffe was one of the award winners at Rhinos’ presentation night this week, being named Yorkshire Evening Post Shooting Star.
“I was over the moon to win it,” he said. “I wasn’t expecting it, I was really pleased when I got nominated, so to win it is absolutely great.”
Rhinos’ side for tomorrow will be selected from the 17 who beat Wigan eight days ago, plus Ryan Bailey and Chris Clarkson.