Huddersfield Giants v Leeds Rhinos: Major motivation for new boy Mellor

An enforced change of role made Alex Mellor’s Leeds Rhinos debut a tough experience, but he is fully motivated to show what he can really do this weekend.

Saturday, 8th February 2020, 6:00 am
Alex Mellor joined Leeds Rhinos from Sunday's hosts Huddersfield Giants. Picture byBruce Rollinson.

In just his second game with his new club Mellor will come up against his former side when Leeds visit Huddersfield Giants on Sunday - and it is already a big game for Rhinos after their 30-4 home thrashing by Hull in Betfred Super League round one.

That was a “strange” afternoon for Mellor who was switched from his specialist second-row slot into the left-centre when Konrad Hurrell was concussed.

“Playing out of position it was one of those where you get thrown in and you just have to do your best,” Mellor recalled.

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Matgt Prior (right) was "un believable" on debut last week, according to teammate Alex Mellor. Picture by Tony Johnson.

“I am not really accustomed to playing there and I don’t enjoy it.

"I prefer to be in the grind, making tackles and getting the ball.

"You feel a little bit distant in that position, but when the team needs you to do something you just have to step up and do it.”

Mellor felt the forced reshuffle had a “detrimental effect on us”, adding: “Me coming out of the forwards made some players do big minutes.

Alex Mellor switched to centre when Konrad Hurrell (pictured) was injured last week. Picture by Tony Johnson.

“Massive raps to Cam Smith, he played 80 minutes and made 60 tackles - an unbelievable effort.

"Matty Prior, I thought, was unbelievable on his debut, he was aggressive and just looked like a different animal.

"It put a lot of pressure on those lads, but they stepped up. The rest of us have got to follow in their footsteps.”

Mellor began his career with Bradford Bulls in 2013 - making 10 substitute appearances in the top-flight and featuring in their first year at Championship level - before joining Huddersfield Giants ahead of the 2017 season.

He scored 19 tries in 75 Super League games for Giants, 65 of those as a member of the starting team and then moved to Rhinos in the off-season, having signed midway through last year.

The reunion has come early and Mellor revealed: “I’ve never played against my old club [in a competitive game] before. It is something I am massively looking forward to, for obvious reasons. I’ll be playing against a lot of my mates, which will be good fun.”

Once the whistle blows it will be all business. Mellor predicted: “There probably won’t be any during the game because you are too switched on, but beforehand I’ll probably give them a bit of sledging and they’ll do a bit of sledging to me and hopefully we’ll have the bragging rights after the game.”

That is all that really matters and for Rhinos to leave the field smiling will take a huge improvement on the poor effort against Hull.

Having won their three full-scale warm-up games and showed positive signs in both attack and defence, the feeble display last week was a shock to players and fans alike.

“We have got off to a bad start,” Mellor admitted. “But it is a season we want to win something so to go none from two would be massively disappointing.

“To add the fact it is Huddersfield to that for me is another motivating factor, but as a team the motivation is we want to get our season kick-started and we want to prove we can do something this year.”

The feeling in Rhinos’ camp is they are much better than they showed in the season-opener. That’s a view Mellor shares.

He said: “We know we let ourselves down. There were some areas we’ve not seen all pre-season, just simple areas where we need to stay a little bit more together.

“That’s the most disappointing thing really, because we pride ourselves on how together we are and how hard we work for each other.

"If we can get back on the horse in regards to that we will be a dangerous team.”

Mellor described the result and performance against Hull as a “massive wake-up call”.

He stressed: “Especially with playing at home, it hurt playing like that at home. What a place it is to come and play, but it needs to be intimidating as well. We want people to think ‘oh no, we’ve got Leeds away this week’.

“Obviously we have got off to a bad start, but we think we can get that back.”

Giants finished 10th in Super League last season, two places below Rhinos, but began the campaign with an outstanding 32-12 victory at Catalans Dragons.

“It looks like Aidan Sezer is the piece that has been missing,” Mellor noted. “Fair play to them, I always look out for them, I have got mates in that team and I want them to do well. I wish them all the best, just not this week.”