Leeds Rhinos: Young gun Lilley targeting regular Rhinos start spot

Jordan Lilley. PIC: Bruce Rollinson
Jordan Lilley. PIC: Bruce Rollinson
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YOUNG GUN Jordan Lilley says he is “loving” being back at Leeds Rhinos.

The 20-year-old half-back returned in June from a spell on loan at Bradford Bulls and has played in Rhinos’ last four games.

His stint in the Kingstone Press Championship was a valuable learning experience, but Lilley’s next challenge is to hold down a regular place in Leeds’ 17.

The three-year contract signed by Lilley earlier this month suggests Rhinos feel he has a big future at the club and the player stressed: “This is where I want to be and where I want to be playing.”

Lilley said: “I have got all my heroes here, who I have looked up to since I was young. It is good to be back, to be training with them and watching them. They are teaching me a lot. I love it; that’s not taking anything away from Bradford. I really enjoyed my time there, there’s some great lads there and I wish them all the best for the rest of the year.

“Hopefully they can stay up. I have learned a lot from that and I am trying to bring it to Leeds now. I am trying to cement my place in the team and get that starting spot.”

Stalwarts Danny McGuire and Rob Burrow are in their final season at Leeds, who have signed Richie Myler for next year. Whether he will partner Lilley or current stand-off Joel Moon in the halves – or even if Rhinos will recruit again – has yet to be revealed and Lilley said: “I will just wait and see. It’ll come to pre-season and I’ll find out.

“Nothing has been said, but I’ve just signed a new deal which is good of them. They’ve shown faith in me, that they want me here. For me that’s good and I wanted to commit because I want to play for this club.

“There’s people on Twitter saying ‘Jordan Lilley for the shirt next year’, but there’s no guarantees for anything. If I don’t get a shirt next year I will happily sit back and go another year and try and do it again – and when I do I will try and keep it.”

Lilley is facing an anxious wait to hear if he will be selected for Saturday’s Ladbrokes Challenge Cup semi-final against Hull at Doncaster’s Keepmoat Stadium.

He said: “I don’t know yet. The one to 13 is probably already picked so it might have to be a bench spot this week, but we’ll have to wait and see.

“I will just work hard and train hard and I just want what’s best for the team. I want us to get to Wembley and to be among that. When we got there in 2015 I was just breaking through so I wasn’t really in with it all.

“Hopefully this year I can be in with the team.”

Lilley insisted being involved in the later stages of a Cup run is a precious experience, whether he plays or not.

“It is good being around the boys and seeing how they do things and how they deal with stuff,” he said.

“For Rob and Mags, with it being their last year at Leeds, it will be good to see how they deal with stuff and maybe I can take some things out of what they do for hopefully years to come when I am in their situation.

“It will be a good experience all round, whether I am playing or not.

“I am just looking forward to being there with the boys, supporting the boys and hopefully we can go on to Wembley and win that trophy.”

Joel Moon

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