Leeds Chiefs boss Sam Zajac striving to add more bodies before end of January

SAM ZAJAC insists Leeds Chiefs are still working tirelessly to bring in new bodies ahead of the trade deadline at the end of this month.

By Phil Harrison
Saturday, 11th January 2020, 10:35 am
Updated Saturday, 11th January 2020, 10:36 am
Leeds Chiefs' player-coach, Sam Zajac. Picture courtesy of Steve Brodie.
Leeds Chiefs' player-coach, Sam Zajac. Picture courtesy of Steve Brodie.

While buoyed by the arrival of experienced Czeck Republic forward Patrik Valcak, the Chiefs were almost back to square one when it became apparent that fellow forward Ashley Calvert would not be able to commit any further this season due to work commitments.

With teenage winger Ethan Hehir away on international duties Great Britain Under-20s in Lithuania for a second week running and with the versatile Richard Bentham likely to be required to split his duties between defence and the forwards lines, it leaves Zajac with just seven forwards for this weekend’s clashes against Telford and Hull.

“We’re still looking to add numbers, we’re still ridiculously short really on bodies and it’s not sustainable so when we got the deal over the line with Patrik we were delighted – but then losing Ashley did take the shine off it slightly as British guys of his quality are so hard to get in.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Ethan Hehir is missing for a second weekend due to being on international duty with Great Britain Under-20s at the world championships in Lithuania. Picture courtesy of Kevin Slyfield.

“So it is back to the drawing board in terms of getting more bodies in and we’ve still got a little bit of time and we’re determined to get more guys in who can come in and make a difference for us.”

Valcak comes in as a centre for the Chiefs, meaning they are likely to run three centres and two pairs of wingers as they have been forced to in recent weeks because of their chronic shortage of bodies.

"Most of his career he has played centre and it is where he feels most comfortable," added Zajac. "So we’re going to slot him in the middle and, depending on numbers, it might be a similar scenario to last weekend where we roll the three centres and the two sets of wingers, so he’s going to get chance to play with everyone."

Zajac said one of the Chiefs' most important traits this season had been the camaraderie of the group through some tough times, with Valcak fitted in quickly after meeting his new team-mates.

"We’ll learn as we go along and work out who he fits in best with," added Zajac. "But when he came down earlier this week it was great the way he interacted with everyone - it felt like he’d been there since the start of the season, so we’re really happy with the way he’s fitted in already.

"We had a lot of character references and with him playing in the UK before we could lean on a few people to get those character references. Sometimes you are rolling the dice to a certain extent when you get import players when they are completely new to the country, sometimes they are not as good a fit as you’d like.

"He feels like there is plenty left in the tank and from what we’ve seen of him too, we feel the same way and we’re just glad to finally have him on board."