Leeds Rhinos' Jack Broadbent sets sights on call up for Super League opener against Wakefield Trinity
When one door shuts, another opens and that has been the case with Leeds Rhinos in pre-season.
Injuries to several senior players have given the club’s youngsters an opportunity to impress in training and their only warm-up game, a 22-16 defeat at Huddersfield Giants nine days ago.
With Harry Newman still on the long-term injury list, Konrad Hurrell also missing and Liam Sutcliffe having to fill in at stand-off, 20-year-old Jack Broadbent got a start at centre against Giants and a sparkling performance gave coach Richard Agar something to think about ahead of Saturday’s Betfred Super League opener against Wakefield Trinity.
“That is 100 per cent my goal,” Batley-born Broadbent said of his hopes of a round one call-up.
“With the injuries we’ve got, it gives me a great opportunity.
“Rich has spoken about putting our front foot forward and I just tried to do my best and tried to say ‘I want to be playing Super League’.”
Broadbent had already been singled out by Rhinos’ coaching staff as a player who impressed throughout pre-season and continued that with his effort against Huddersfield.
“I was really pleased with my personal performance,” he admitted.
“I’ve played before with some of the younger players, but playing with that really experienced side and coming up with a good performance, it makes me proud of my efforts.”
Broadbent played three times, twice at stand-off and once as a centre, in Super League last year when senior players were rested before or after big Challenge Cup ties.
He began the pre-season game at centre, but switched to full-back after Ash Handley suffered a knee injury which will keep him out of action for six weeks.
“Centre is probably what I’d say is my preferred position,” he confirmed.
“I do a lot of training in different positions, filling in, but it was good to get a chance to start there.
“It shows things do happen in games and you do need to be able to cover other positions.
“I felt comfortable that I know what I am doing and that’s credit to Rich [Agar, Rhinos’ coach] for getting me ready for multiple positions.
“I just want them [Rhinos’ coaches] to know when my time comes they don’t have to have any second thoughts about putting me in and they know I will be ready to perform.
“When I do get a chance, like I did last weekend, I am going to take it with two hands and put my all into it.”
Broadbent provided the final pass for one of Rhinos’ tries at John Smith’s Stadium and scored another, with a long-range gallop after Richie Myler had intercepted a near Rhinos’ line.
He left Jermaine McGillvary, Giants’ England winger, trailing in his wake, but played down the spectacular nature of his touchdown.
He said: Obviously it was nice to get away - once you see that open field, you just go for it.
“Luckily I didn’t have to beat any defenders, it was kind of an easy try.
“I was glad I could hold [McGillvary] off, but I would have been disappointed with myself if I’d got caught.”
Broadbent also made some important tackles after moving to full-back and they gave him more satisfaction.
“That’s what you’re there for as a full-back,” he noted.
“You are that last line of defence.
“We have spoken a lot about the brotherhood in the team, if something does go wrong, we are going to have each other’s backs.
“I think everyone did it, covering each other’s backs and being there for each other.
“To get a couple of try-savers, it was quite good.”
He added: “With all the injuries we’ve had a really good opportunity to get our hands on the ball in pre-season.
“We’ve been training really hard so it’s kind of a reward for all our hard work.”
Agar will name an initial 21-man squad on Thursday and has said everyone - with the exception of Jack Walker, Handley, Rob Lui and Callum McLelland - has “a chance” of being available.
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