Leeds Rhinos’ evergreen warhorse Matt Prior ready to go again

VETERAN WARHORSE Matt Prior says he is “feeling pretty good” as he prepares to put his body on the line for Leeds Rhinos, yet again.

Thursday, 8th July 2021, 5:45 am
Leeds Rhinos' Matt Prior breaks through the Warrington defence on Monday. Picture: Simon Hulme.
Leeds Rhinos' Matt Prior breaks through the Warrington defence on Monday. Picture: Simon Hulme.

Prior is set to play his fifth game in 15 days tomorrow, when Rhinos take on Betfred Super League leaders Catalans Dragons at Emerald Headingley.

He featured for Combined Nations All Stars in their win over England on June 25 and Leeds’ defeats of Salford Red Devils (June 27), Leigh Centurions (July 1) and Warrington Wolves (July 5).

Despite playing in the most physical position on the field, the front-rower has had long minutes in each game.

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Matt Prior on the attack against Wakefield Trinity. Picture: Bruce Rollinson.

“I am feeling pretty good, to be honest,” Prior – man of the match against Warrington – said of how his 34-year-old body is holding up.

“I’m just happy with the win; we dug in deep and we got the job done.

“It wasn’t perfect, but the effort and commitment and attitude was outstanding.”

Rhinos, with nine players unavailable becaue of injury or suspension, lost Jack Broadbent to an ankle problem inside the opening quarter.

Mikolaj Oledzki was struggling with a foot injury and Liam Sutcliffe and Rob Lui were both sin-binned in a frantic final 10 minutes. Prior added: “I think our effort has been pretty good all year, to be honest, but [on Monday] it was special and I am super-proud.”

Oledzki and Kruise Leeming have had the same schedule as Prior and he insisted it is a “team effort”.

He stressed: “Everyone’s playing well, everyone’s ripping in for each other and playing a good style of footy.

“That’s really good to see and good to be part of.

“Some of the boys’ effort – Brad Dwyer, Ash Handley – chasing back and making cover tackles, holding them up and stopping tries, it was a special effort from all the boys.

“Everyone contributed and that’s something I think we can be proud of and build on.”

The Australian forward, who was Rhinos’ player of the year in his debut 2020 season, admitted the current fixture pile-up is a unique experience in his long career.

“I’ve haven’t done anything like this since I was young,” he reflected.

“It is probably a lot harder now, being 34, but it hasn’t been too bad.

“The club’s looking after me. We basically do the captain’s run [the day before a game] and play, so I get a couple of days off and, by the time the game comes around, I am not feeling too bad. But I am looking forward to a bit of a rest in a few weeks’ time.”

Of the prospect of backing up again tomorrow, Prior said: “It’s just one of those things. “I guess it’s a bit of a challenge mentally, to keep getting up for it.

“I am up for the challenge; I will be ready come Friday.

“We’ve got a couple of days off to rest and recover, then a light run on Thursday and, come Friday, I will be sweet.”

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