Leeds Rhinos' Matt Prior vows to steer clear of clubmate Mikolaj Oledzki when Combined Nations All Stars take on England

Matt Prior has no intention of tangling with his Leeds Rhinos teammate Mikolaj Oledzki tonight.

Friday, 25th June 2021, 9:35 am
Matt Prior, left and Kruise Leeming, right, will be on the opposing side to Rhinos teammate Mikola Oledzki, centre, in the mid-season international. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com.
Matt Prior, left and Kruise Leeming, right, will be on the opposing side to Rhinos teammate Mikola Oledzki, centre, in the mid-season international. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com.

Oledzki is set to make his England debut against Combined Nations All Stars, who are co-captained by Prior, in the mid-season international at Warrington.

The Polish-born forward is emerging as a World Cup contender after an outstanding start to the Super League campaign and Prior said: “He has been in fantastic form."

But he stressed: “I’ll be avoiding him, I’ll be on the other side of the pitch to wherever he is, so hopefully he doesn’t run over me!”

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Matt Prior in action for Leeds. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.

The All Stars’ side also includes Leeds’ England Knights hooker Kruise Leeming and Prior added: “I think it’s huge for him.

“Obviously he missed out on the English squad, but he has been playing good footy and it’s a massive opportunity for him to put his hand up and show everyone what he’s about.”

Prior has been hailed by All Stars coach Tim Sheens as a “natural leader” and reflecting on his own club performances, he said: “I think my form has been pretty good, pretty consistent all year.

“I am happy with where my form’s at, but I’ll just keep building.”

England will be expected to win tonight, particularly given the problems Sheens had putting together a 19-man squad, which was not confirmed until three days before the game.

But Prior predicted: “I think we are going to go well.”

He said: “We have got a good team, with a lot of experience and a lot of talent.

“I think it’ll be a good game, I am not sure who’s going to win, but I think it should be a good spectacle.”

Prior confirmed the All Stars’ plan is to play “attacking footy” and he added: “As a middle, I’ll get in there and try and throw the ball about a bit and adapt to that style of footy, so it should be good.”

Prior played in Australia’s State of Origin two years ago, but has not featured at Test level and is keen to make the most of the experience.

“Coming in and seeing a lot of the boys you see around, but don’t really get a chance to talk to, is good,” he reflected.

“It has been really enjoyable. I have never played against England before so that’s exciting and to do that - and hopefully to win - would be something to look back on in the future.

“Just to get the [All Stars] jersey and have it hanging up in my house somewhere down the track and being able to look back on it with fond memories is something I think I’ll always cherish.”

The Leeds players involved tonight could be back in action on Sunday, when Rhinos visit Salford Red Devils.

“It’s not ideal, a couple of nights’ sleep and then play again, but it is what it is,” Prior said of the prospect of playing twice in three days.

“As long as I pull up all right and I’ve got no injuries, I’ll be ready to go come Sunday - it’ll be fine.”

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