Leeds Rhinos: Kettlewell ready to bide his time

Novice scrum-half Rory Kettlewell is preparing for a long haul as he bids to make the transition from rugby union to Super League.

Despite an unusual background for a Rhinos player, playing for Leeds has been an ambition of Kettlewell's since he took up the rival code at six years old.

And after making his first appearance in blue and amber, he revealed that he is prepared to do all it takes to make the grade in his new sport.

Kettlewell, originally from Ripon, played junior rugby union for Harrogate before linking up with Gloucester.

A former Sedburgh School pupil, he dipped his toe into rugby league waters on trial at Wigan Warriors last term and was then snapped up by Leeds Rhinos on a two-year deal.

"Ever since I was a kid I have always been a Leeds fan," said the 18-year-old. "It has always been my dream to play for them and I have worked hard for it.

"All my background is rugby union, I have played ever since the age of six. I had never played league in my life, but I have always been a keen follower on TV and I've been down to Rhinos loads of times, so it's not new to me."

Of his transition from the 15-a-side code to the league, Kettlewell said: "It is not going to happen overnight.

"It is going to take a bit of time, but I am training really hard and picking up a lot of good stuff.

"I just have to get on with it. I have been training with the first team, so it has been good to gain experience off all those guys.

"It has been great learning off them and Rob Burrow has been really good with me. He's a great guy, really friendly and welcoming – a top guy.

"There's not many players like Rob in Super League and I'm lucky to be learning off someone who has such great experience."

Kettlewell – the second Sedburgh old-boy to join Rhinos after prop Ewan Dowes – described the scrum-half roles in union and league

as "completely different".

He said: "A lot of union guys might look at it and say it's not that hard, but you get on the pitch and there's a lot more structure to the game, you don't just fall into it.

"The organising side of it will take a bit of time. I have got to get used to putting people in the right places and standing behind and telling everyone where to go.

"But it will come with time. I just have to bide my time and get on with it."

Rhinos fans had a first chance to see Kettlewell in action two days ago when he took to the field in the traditional Lazenby Cup pre-season fixture away to Hunslet Hawks.

It was a promising start for Kettlewell, who scored Leeds' opening try and he did not look out of place against a seasoned league veteran in Hawks player/coach Paul March, a former Super League star with Wakefield Trinity Wildcats who also played for the Hawks.

"It was the fourth game of league that I've played," said Kettlewell. "I thought it was really good.

"It was a useful team effort and it was nice to pick up my first try for Leeds. It was good to get out there and it was a top effort against some old heads."

Rhinos are likely to field a similar team away to Featherstone Rovers on Sunday and in another trial game at Whitehaven seven days later.

They have a final warm-up match away to York City Knights on February 2 before the under-20s' Volvoline Cup season begins.

With a new under-20s squad coach at the helm in former Rhinos player Damian Gibson, Kettlewell feels every hit-out is valuable.

"We can only get better," he predicted. "And the stronger opposition we play, the better we are going to go.

"Damian has been great, he's been good to learn off and he has been great motivating the side. It has been really good working with him."

Rhinos picked up two injuries against Hunslet. Substitute Clayton Stott damaged a hamstring and captain/loose-forward Callum Casey took a bang to the head, though he is expected to be fit for the trip to face Featherstone at Big Fellas Stadium.

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