Leeds Rhinos player of the year Mikolaj Oledzki pledges to be 'even better next season'

Newly-crowned Leeds Rhinos player of the year Mikolaj Oledzki has pledged to be “even better" in 2022.

By Peter Smith
Friday, 24th December 2021, 4:44 am

Oledzki, 23, had an outstanding year, despite a foot injury which kept him out of action for 11 games.

The front-rower made his England debut against France in October and signed a new long-term contract earlier this month, keeping him at Rhinos until the end of 2025.

His award was announced yesterday and Oledzki reflected: “It has been a crazy year.”

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Mikolaj OIledzki takes on Leigh's Liam Hood, who is now at Wakefield and could feature in the Boxing Day game against Leeds. Picture by Jonathan Gawthorpe.

He said: “There’s been some ups and downs, it was going great until I got the injury, then I had to have an operation and I thought my season was over.

“That was pretty gutting, but I managed to get back for the last couple of games and that was great, but then we came up short in the semi-final.

“That was heartbreaking, but overall it has been a great year and I feel like I have given myself a good platform to be even better next year.”

Oledzki - who is set to feature in Sunday’s Wetherby Whaler Festive Challenge against Wakefield Trinity - is now established as one Betfred Super League’s top props, but insisted he won’t get complacent.

Mikolaj Oledzki on the charge for England agianst France in October. Picture by Will Palmer/SWpix.com.

“The key is to keep wanting more and more, to be better as a player on the field as well as off and always striving to achieve,” he said.

“As a team and individuals we really want to win some silverware and get back to the top - top-four finish, top-two and start competing for the trophies.

“That is the goal for next year and we’ll all put 110 per cent in to give ourselves the best shot.”

OIledzki has been a member of Rhinos’ senior side since 2017 and played in their Challenge Cup final-winning team last year.

He admitted he was surprised and proud to receive the club’s top individual award.

Oledzki said: “I have come through the scholarship and the academy and I have seen a lot of great players - legends - win this award, so it’s really special.

“We have got so many great players in our team, who play week in and week out.

“They deserve this too, so it really means a lot to me.”

Rhinos’ front-row filled the player of the year honours board, with hooker Kruise Leeming runner-up and Matt Prior in third place.

Of his front-row colleagues, Oledzki added: “Our forwards have been great this year, as well as backs, but I play in the middle and we always look after our patch of grass first!

“I have had a good year, but it wasn’t by accident, I have had great players around me like Matt Prior, Zane Tetevano, Kruise, Cam Smith…

“They kind of get the best out of me and without those players I wouldn’t be where I am now.

“I am grateful I get to play with them every week and hopefully I can contribute for them.”

Back Jack Broadbent won the Yorkshire Evening Post Shooting Star prize and Harry Newman’s first touchdown against Warrington in August was voted Leeds’ try of the season.

England star Caitlin Beevers was named Rhinos women’s players player of the year and Aimee Staveley - who was ever present during the season - won the coaches’ award.

Team captain Courtney Winfield-Hill was selected by sponsors Mears as their player of the year and Fran Goldthorp topped the fans’ vote for best try with a spectacular effort against Wakefield Trinity.

Wakefield coach Willie Poching has not yet named his squad for Boxing Day’s all-ticket derby, but recruits Blake Austin, Aidan Sezer and James Bentley are set to feature for Leeds.

Leeds Rhinos: from Myler, Broadbent, Newman, Briscoe, Handley, Austin, Sezer, Oledzki, Leeming, Tetevano, Mellor, Bentley, Smith, Dwyer, Donaldson, Gannon, Thompson, Walters, Sinfield, O’Connor, Mustapha, Tindall.

Referee: Jack Smith (Warrington).

Kick-off: Sunday, 11.30am.

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