Catalans Dragons v Leeds Rhinos: Lilley only too willing to answer Rhinos' call
HIS CHANCE may have arrived at last and Leeds Rhinos half-back Jordan Lilley is determined to 'take it with both hands'.
Lilley has not played for Leeds since starting at scrum-half in a Super-8s defeat away to Castleford Tigers on September 8 last year.
With stand-off Joel Moon and his back-up Liam Sutcliffe both injured, the 21-year-old has been called into Rhinos’ initial 19-man squad for tomorrow’s game at Catalans Dragons.
“It’s frustrating, but that’s sport,” he said of his long spell on the sidelines.
“Sometimes you don’t get what you want and you have to keep pushing hard to get into the team.
“I’ve been to Leigh and Featherstone and not had a shot yet, but I’ve kept training hard and when the opportunity arises I’ll take it with both hands.
“I am still positive about everything. I just want to play rugby and, at the end of the day, that’s what I’m going to try and do.”
Lilley signed a three-year contract last July and he insisted his desire to play for Leeds “hasn’t changed”.
He said: “Just because I haven’t played for a while doesn’t mean I’ve lost that. I am still 100 per cent wanting to be at Leeds and prove people wrong who are doubting me. That’s what I aim to do. I just need to get that game time first before I can prove myself because I haven’t played many games this year.
“We’ve played 12 games in the season and I’ve only played three, one on loan for Leigh and two on dual-registration for Featherstone. It’s a bit disappointing I haven’t played as many as I’d have wanted, but I am going to keep pushing and hopefully when the opportunity does arise at Leeds, if it does, I can take it. I am completely set on trying to prove people who are saying I am not good enough wrong.”
Lilley’s loan spell at Leigh, who Rhinos face in the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup next weekend, was cut short by injury. He admitted: “I’ve not had a lot of luck. A few games in I still hadn’t played for Leeds so I spoke about a loan deal and went to Leigh.
“I loved it there, the coaches were brilliant with me and worked really hard, then we played Halifax in my first game and the first tackle I made in the game I got a really bad dead leg and I was out for four or five weeks with that.
“That set me back, then obviously the loan deal ran out. The opportunity came up to have a few games with Featherstone so I took that, then the Challenge Cup came and I couldn’t play in that.
“It’s like one step forward and two steps back, but I am doing what I love, coming into work every day doing a job I love, so I can’t be down about that. I’ve not been not playing, but there’s people worse off than me.
“Kallum [Watkins] has just got a really bad injury that’s ruled him out for the season.
“I just need to keep training hard and hopefully I’ll get my shot and when I do I’ll hopefully play well enough to keep my spot.”
Prop Jack Ormondroyd, centre Jimmy Keinhorst and second-rower Josh Walters have also been drafted into Rhinos’ squad for tomorrow.
Hooker Matt Parcell (shoulder), full-back Jack Walker (knee) and scrum-half Richie Myler (head) are included despite picking up knocks in last week’s defeat by Castleford Tigers.
Carl Ablett could return from an ankle injury and fellow second-rower Stevie Ward will captain the team if passed fit.