Leeds Rhinos' Alex Sutcliffe sets sights on Castleford Tigers derby after impressing in win over Wakefield Trinity
Shooting Star Alex Sutcliffe is keen to make the most of Leeds Rhinos’ early-season injury problems in the back division.
Sutcliffe, who made his Leeds debut four years ago, has yet to have a sustained run in the team, but could get that opportunity now with Harry Newman still recovering from a broken leg suffered last September and Konrad Hurrell on the casualty list with a calf muscle injury.
Yorkshire Evening Post readers voted the 22-year-old the club’s top young player last season, when he was part of Rhinos’ Challenge Cup winning side, but the 28-22 win over Wakefield Trinity in Betfred Super League three days ago was only his 12th first team appearance.
“There’s some good competition so that position is not mine yet,” Sutcliffe conceded.
“I have got to keep trying hard and competing, but that is my aim - to keep doing what I am doing, try my hardest and work on everything I need to and try and nail that position down.”
Leeds’ other centre against Wakefield, 20-year-old Jack Broadbent, was even less experienced, having played only three senior games for Rhinos last year.
"It was a tough assignment for the pair, up against England prospect Reece Lyne and former Dream team pick Bill Tupou, but both were among Rhinos’ try scorers, with Broadbent’s touchdown proving the match-winner.
“Jack is a really good player,” Sutcliffe - who can also play in the second-row - said.
“We have got some really good centresa; obviously we’ve got Harry and Konny who are both injured, we’ve got Sutty [Liam Sutcliffe] who can play centre and young Corey Hall, who just missed out.
“Corey’s great, so the competition there is amazing.
"I thought Jack did really well, he was amazing and I was quite pleased with how I played as well.”
Of Rhinos’ team performance, Sutcliffe said: “I thought we played well, there’s a few things to work on, but there always is.
"With it being the first game of the season, we were a bit scratchy in some areas, but I thought overall it was a pretty good game for us.”
Trinity led 16-4 midway through the first half, but Leeds hit back to lead by six points at the break and Sutcliffe felt the way they responded to the early setback was a good sign.
“They are a good team,” the Oulton Raiders product said of Wakefield.
“We knew they were going to get their tails up at some point and have a good crack at us and they did, but we have got some good leaders, some generals - like Galey [Luke Gale], Kruise [Leeming], Dog [Brad Dwyer] when he comes on, Sutty [Liam Sutcliffe] and Dicky [Myler] at the back. We all kept a cool head, we knew we could fight back and we proved that.”
Leeds are back in action on Friday against Castleford Tigers at St Helens.
“It is always a good game against Cas,” Sutcliffe warned. “They’ve always had a good team and seem to step up when they play us.
“We’re expecting the best Cas team so it will be another good game for us.”
Rhinos half-back Callum McLelland underwent surgery on his groin injury yesterday.
Support the YEP and become a subscriber today. Enjoy unlimited access to local news and the latest on Leeds United, With a digital subscription, you see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content. Click here to subscribe.