Hot prospect Morgan Gannon not fazed by huge step into Leeds Rhinos' Super League squad
Teenager Morgan Gannon admits it is “surreal” to be training alongside players he was watching as a rugby league fan only last season.
Gannon, who turned 17 last December, is in pre-season with Rhinos’ full-time squad after being promoted straight out of their academy system.
Leeds have high hopes for the youngster, with coach Richard Agar predicting he - and fellow prospect Levi Edwards - could be “generational talents” if they continue their rapid progress.
Seven of Rhinos’ 31-strong full-time group have made fewer than five appearances at the top level, but with some key players unavailable due to injury - or having been delayed arriving back from overseas - Leeds’ kids have had an opportunity to stand out in training and Gannon reckons the experience is invaluable.
“It has been good,” he said of training with the Challenge Cup holders.
“When I started, the first couple of weeks, it was a bit of a shock, a bit different to what I was used to, but now I am getting used to the day-to-day training, turning up each day and stuff like that.
“I did a week in the October holidays last year, but it was a different experience because there were a lot of games, short turnarounds and it was a lot of captain’s runs, non-players and days off.
“This is my first actual pre-season.”
Along with Edwards, who is 23 days younger and has also joined Rhinos from the Siddal community club in Halifax, Gannon travelled with the team to Leeds’ away game against St Helens last October and warmed up on the pitch before the match.
He recalled: “That was a bit surreal, in the changing rooms and stuff like that.
“I had to pinch myself a bit, there were some people I had been watching for the last couple of years and I was in the changing room with them.
“It all seems a bit of a blur, looking back.”
Not only that, but when Gannon was going through his pre-match paces at one end of the field, the likes of James Roby, Lachlan Coote and Alex Walmsley were warming up at the other.
“When I was water-boying, Alex Walmsley was walking in front of the bench,” he added.
“It was a bit of a weird feeling, he was playing against the team I was with.”
Though the game was played behind closed doors, that taste of the matchday experience has given Gannon - a second-rower or loose-forward - an idea of what he will go through when he is called up for his debut.
“It gave me an insight into what to expect,” he said.
“Hopefully when I get a chance I will be accustomed to it and I can focus on the game, not what’s happening before.”
But Gannon’s level-headedness is something which has impressed Rhinos’ management and he is not getting carried away with his sudden elevation from the youth game to the verge of Super League.
“I’d love an opportunity,” he said of his prospects of making his debut this year.
“But physically I know I have got a long way to develop, getting some weight on and things like that.
“If it came I would definitely take it with both hands and try and do my best, but I know at the moment I have got a lot of developing to do before that would become a realistic goal.”
Gannon has good credentials. His father Jim played 203 times in Super League between 1999 and 2007, for Halifax, Huddersfield Giants and Hull KR.
Morgan said: “He has always been good, especially when I was playing at Siddal, after matches and things like that.
“Especially giving me clear, singular objectives - even just ‘run harder’. He wasn’t confusing with it all, he would give me a clear goal and I’d go into a game with that. He didn’t try to cram too much in.”
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