Leeds Rhinos: Sutcliffe looking to secure regular first-team berth at Rhinos

Liam Sutcliffe
Liam Sutcliffe
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SHOOTING STAR Liam Sutcliffe has vowed to establish himself as a first-choice Leeds Rhinos player after a month on loan at neighbours Bradford Bulls.

SHOOTING STAR Liam Sutcliffe has vowed to establish himself as a first-choice Leeds Rhinos player after a month on loan at neighbours Bradford Bulls.

The 19-year-old added to his growing reputation with four strong performances for Bulls during a month there, but insisted he is delighted to be back at Headingley.

“Obviously I want to play for Leeds, but I enjoyed the experience at Bradford,” said the former Hunslet Warriors junior.

“All the lads were great and the coaching staff were great. Francis Cummins and Lee St Hilaire were fantastic with me. I enjoyed the opportunity, but it is great to be back.”

Sutcliffe admitted he is “not too sure at the moment” if he will return to Bulls or have a loan spell elsewhere, but stressed securing a regular place in Rhinos’ line-up is his priority.

“Hopefully I will get some game-time here,” he said. “I will train as hard as I can to get in the team every week.

“If not, then that might be an option later on. But at this moment in time I just want to play as many games as I can for Leeds.”

Sutcliffe was ever-present during his month at Bradford and believes that was a better option for his development than playing in Leeds’ under-19s.

“It was good to get a few Super League games under my belt,” he stated. “That is all I want to do, play Super League.

“I want to be doing that every week, so to go there and play the full 80 for three matches was great for me.”

Rhinos boss Brian McDermott threw Sutcliffe straight into his 17 for last Sunday’s Tetley’s Challenge Cup tie at Wakefield Trinity Wildcats and the teenager responded by coming off the bench at the start of the second half to score a try in Leeds’ 60-6 win.

That completed the rare feat of touching down in successive weekends for different teams, following a try against Widnes Vikings in his final Bulls appearance.

“It was good to play the full second half,” he said. “You don’t know when you are going to get on or how the game is going to go, but we got into a pretty good lead and I was buzzing to get back out there.

“It was nice to score, I couldn’t quite believe it. I got the ball off Kev [Sinfield] and saw a big gap. I didn’t realise I was going to score until I got near to the line.”

Sutcliffe is hoping to keep his place when Rhinos take on Wildcats again in a home Super League derby on Friday.

“Wakey always raise their game against us so I think everyone was a bit shocked by the score on Sunday,” he reflected.

“It was still a tough game, I don’t think the scoreline reflects the game, but we did do some pretty good things out there.

“We are playing them again and what happened on Sunday won’t matter. We will be preparing for a tough game and we won’t get carried away with Sunday’s scoreline.”

Meanwhile, McDermott said Rhinos’ medical staff are checking on Brett Delaney (groin), Danny McGuire (back) and Ian Kirke (ankle) following the Cup tie, but he is hopeful all three will be available for Friday.

Hooker Paul Aiton, who joined Rhinos from Wakefield in the off-season, is facing a three-month lay-off as he undergoes a course of medication to treat a condition which has ruled him out of the past two games.

Chief executive Gary Hetherington said: “Paul is desperately disappointed because he feels fit and healthy, but after tests and consultation with a specialist he has been advised he needs a course of medication. He will not be able to play whilst taking this medication until he has made a full recovery. This process is expected to be about 12 weeks, but he will be monitored on a monthly basis.”

Rhinos’ Cup fifth round tie at home to St Helens will be televised live on BBC 1 on Saturday, April 26 (2.30pm).

Leeds Carnegie’s home clash with Cornish Pirates, scheduled to be played at the same time, has been brought forward to Friday, April 25 (8pm).

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