Leeds Rhinos' Brad Dwyer pledges to put team first this season
Dynamic hooker Brad Dwyer says he wants to be more of a “team player” for Leeds Rhinos this year.
Dwyer joined Rhinos from Warrington Wolves at the end of the 2017 season and had a difficult first two years with the club as Leeds fought successive battles against relegation.
He was an influential figure in their return to form last term, when Rhinos won the Challenge Cup and finished fifth in Betfred Super League and became one of their go-to players when something was needed to turn the tide in a game.
That has made Dwyer - nicknamed Dog - a fans’ favourite, but he admitted his focus for the forthcoming campaign is more on taking the right options for the team than his own individual performances.
That is something coach Richard Agar has stressed to Dwyer, who will again share acting-half duties with England Knights forward Kruise Leeming.
Dwyer believes the competition brings the best out of both players - though more game time is another aim this year.
“It helps if the team’s doing well,” Dwyer said of his form last term, which led to him securing a new contract until the end of 2022.
“It is a bit easier to play in and there’s a lot less limelight on you.
“I think some of the best performances I had were probably in a poorer team - but it wasn’t necessarily team performances, it was performances for myself.
“I have worked on that, being more of a team player is where I need to keep improving.
“That’s what I am doing and Rich is pushing me to do.”
Dwyer, who was the only Rhinos player to contract coronavirus during the 2020 season, insisted: “When we have got decent half-backs in the team and decent players out wide, I have just got to feed them, give them the ball early and pick and choose when my opportunities are best.
“That’s my main focus going forward.
“I know I can make things happen, it’s just picking the right times to do that.”
The 27-year-old had a strong season last year, scoring three tries in 18 games, but insisted he needs to step up again.
He was Rhinos’ starting hooker for their opening seven games, but then switched to the bench after new signing Leeming recovered from a pre-season knee injury.
“Rich is forever demanding high standards,” he said of Agar.
“There’s plenty for me to work on and I’ll just keep doing that.
“There’s healthy competition between me and Kruise [Leeming], which is great.
“We will keep pushing each other.
“I don’t mind if I start or if I come off the bench, but I want to be playing for as long as I can.”
The combination, with Leeming starting games before Dwyer was brought on to add impact off the bench, was influential in Rhinos’ Challenge Cup success and Dwyer reckons the hookers keep each other on their toes.
“If I am not playing long and Kruise is playing really well, that’s just the way it is, as long as the team is going right,” he insisted.
“I want to be part of a successful squad and the way the game is going, we need two nines.
“I want to really push Kruise and be competitive with him, which will bring the best out in me.
“Hopefully we can have some decent performances this year and impress Rich.”