Leeds Rhinos' Alex Mellor pledges to regain his spot after 'falling out of favour'

Second-rower Alex Mellor has pledged to fight his way back up Leeds Rhinos' pecking order after recovering from illness.

By Peter Smith
Wednesday, 13th April 2022, 6:00 am

Mellor has not played in either of Rhinos’ last two first-team games but featured for the reserves when they beat a strong Hull KR side last weekend.

The former Huddersfield Giants man dropped from squad number 11 to 15 when Leeds brought in James Bentley from St Helens in pre-season and has featured in only four of Rhinos’ eight competitive matches so far.

He has been included in the initial 21-man squad for tomorrow’s visit of his previous club, however, and insisted: “I want to play every week.”

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Alex Mellor, front, with fellow Rhinos second-rower James Bentley. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix,com.

He said: “I seem to have fallen out of favour a little bit, which is annoying and upsetting, so I have got quite a lot of fire in my belly and I feel like I’ve got a point to prove.

“I am sat patiently waiting for a chance.

“Whether that comes this week or not, I don’t know, but I am not going to mope around.

“I am going to get myself even fitter and even better if I am not playing and see where that gets me.”

Alex Mellor was knocked out early in Rhinos' home game agianst Catalans. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com.

The illness was a setback, but Mellor proved his fitness by playing throughout last week’s second-team game, in two different positions.

“I’ve been ill for probably the best part of three weeks,” he confirmed.

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“I played a bit in the middle and in the back-row as well, just to get a bit of fitness. I’ve not played 80 minutes since round two so it was nice to cement some minutes into me.

Alex Mellor on the ball against Salford. Picture by Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com.

“I’ve probably played about 35 minutes’ worth of rugby in the last two months so to be able to play 80 was nice.”

Mellor had no qualms about featuring in Rhinos’ second string which is made up mainly of young players.

“Whatever challenge is put in front of me, I will grab it with both hands and take it,” he said.

“If that’s what’s put in front of me that week I’ll give 100 per cent to that. I won’t mope around and kick stones, I’ll just get on with it and that’s what I did.”

Mellor added valuable experience to Leeds’ side in their 36-32 win.

Hull KR’s line-up featured several first teamers, including Ben Crooks, Brad Takairangi, Will Dagger and Korbin Sims, while Mellor was the only player with senior experience in Rhinos’ ranks.

Leeds trailed 8-0 early on, but hit back to lead 30-12 at half-time and then withstood a Rovers rally in the second period.

Mellor said: “It was a fantastic win and a big learning curve for some of them.

“I could see before the game they saw their teamsheet and had a look at some of the names and they were a bit anxious and nervous about what was to come.

“I think that showed in the first 20 minutes when they outplayed us a bit and we couldn’t get off our own line.

“But I think once we got into the game the young fellas really came out of their shells, stood up to that Hull KR side and ended up overpowering them, so it was a really impressive performance.”

Forwards Zane Tetevano, Brad Dwyer and Bodene Thompson could also return tomorrow, but ex-Huddersfield half-back Aidan Sezer misses out for a second-successive game because of a groin injury.