Castleford Tigers derby is great test for Leeds Rhinos' youngsters says Richie Myler
Young players gaining valuable experience is the positive from Leeds Rhinos’ injury crisis, Richie Myler says.
Rhinos will again be without the seven injured players who missed last week’s round one win over Wakefield Trinity six days ago when they take on Castleford Tigers at St Helens in Betfred Super League today.
The casualty list includes five of Rhinos’ seven first-choice backs and recent signing Kyle Eastmond will have to wait at least another week for his debut.
Jack Broadbent, 20 and 22-year old Alex Sutcliffe were paired in the centres last week - taking their combined total of first team appearances to 16 - and 18-year-old centre Corey Hall and forwards Jarrod O’Connor, 19 and Sam Walters, 20 are also in the squad for this afternoon.
Myler said: “We want our senior, key players who play a big role in the team back playing, however on the flip side, it breeds opportunity.
“I think the young boys who played last weekend really took their opportunity.
“There were a couple of little blips, but on the whole I thought they came up with some big plays - Sutty with his try and some good D [defence] and Jack the same.
“He made a pretty special interception and I think they will be better for it.”
Myler insisted: “You’ve got to be conscious of not expecting too much too early, while still giving them the confidence they are on the right path.
“When we get our senior guys back in the mix, the young boys will really be pushing and providing competition for places.
“When there’s competition for places it always breeds the best for the team.
“That’s what we want and for the younger boys it is a great opportunity and I hope they keep taking their chances.”
Myler is predicting a step up in intensity in today’s encounter.
Tigers began their campaign with a 21-12 win over highly-fancied Warrington Wolves five days ago, when new signing Niall Evalds, stand-off Jake Trueman and Man of Steel Paul McShane all impressed.
“I have been around a few years now in Leeds colours so I realise how big a derby Leeds v Cas is,” Myler said.
“The intensity goes up a notch in those games.
“They’ve had the core of their team together for some time and they are a talented bunch.
“They’ve got some experienced, quality players in the side so it’s going to be a big game.”
That is a common theme in the opening weeks of the season for Rhinos, who are back at St Helens for a Betfred Challenge Cup third round tie against the Super League champions a week tomorrow and face 2020 league leaders Wigan Warriors in 13 days’ time.
“Sometimes that’s the best way to do it,” Myler said of Leeds’ tough start.
“It’s better to find out where you’re at pretty quickly, which you do against tough opposition.
“We will pretty much see where we are at, so it’s exciting.”
Myler made a strong start to his personal season, scoring a try, providing the final pass for two more and handling in the build up for another during Rhinos’ 28-22 win over Wakefield.
As a team, he reckons Leeds will be better for having a competitive fixture under their belt.
“There were patches in the game where we never quite got it right and they had a bit of a purple patch and posted some points from it,” Myler recalled.
“That kind of hurt us - sometimes you can have a dip in a game and if they don’t score points, it’s not actually that bad, but they scored three tries on us in that purple patch, which was disappointing.
“But I thought we started the game very strongly and we found a way to win, which is a big positive - being able to grind out those ugly wins and coming out on the right side on the scoreboard.
“It was a disjointed pre-season with injuries and people being in and out in key positions.
“That has not helped, but it’s similar to all teams, I think you can see everyone looks a bit disjointed and only having one friendly doesn’t help, but we’re happy we got the win and we showed a lot of positives in that game,
“There’s a few things to work on, but there were more positives than negatives which is always a bonus.”
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