IT HAS been an action-packed year for Leeds Rhinos teenager Harry Newman and he could end it with two finals and a top individual award.
Newman, 18, has played three times for Rhinos this season, but been a big hit during a dual-registration stint at Featherstone Rovers.
Fourteen tries in just 11 games have earned him a nomination for the Betfred Championship young player of the year award, which will be handed out at the competition’s annual dinner in Manchester next week.
He has also been a semi-regular with Rhinos’ under-19s, scoring 16 tries in 11 appearances and will feature in their play-offs semi-final at St Helens tonight.
Inclusion on the young player shortlist was a shock to the centre/winger, despite his impressive performances.
Newman said: “I wasn’t expecting it at all, but I’ve been working hard and it has been going well for me at Fev so I am really, really pleased.
“It is allowing me to get the game time, playing against men, which I need to develop my game and hopefully push on in Super League.”
Rovers missed out on a place in the Qualifiers, but are top of the Betfred Championship Shield table and on course for home advantage in the final against Leigh Centurions.
That is despite fielding only 14 players in a win over Leigh three weeks ago and 16 when they beat Sheffield Eagles in their following game.
“John Duffy [Rovers’ coach] is still keen on us winning all our games and everyone’s turning up to training and doing our best,” Newman said.
“Hopefully we can go on and win the Championship Shield.
“The physicality of the Championship is a step up, but there’s an academy semi-final this week and I’ve been picked for that.
“Wherever I play I just have to do my job.”
Rhinos under-19s – coached by Rob Burrow – finished third in the table, a point behind Saints and three adrift of Wigan Warriors.
“Rob has been great this year,” Newman said.
“He had such a great career and he’s brought his influence to us. I think we’ll put a good performance in.”
Newman’s efforts for Rovers and Leeds’ under-19s have earned him a big reputation and Featherstone boss Duffy has tipped him to go all the way to the top.
“Next year I am really looking to kick on,” Newman said.
“That’s going to be a big year for me. I have kicked on massively this year, playing at Fev, and next year I am going to strive for that Super League spot.
“I look back to last pre-season and how I was then to how I am now, I think I am a better player now.”
Rhinos will field a strong team tonight, also including prop Mikolaj Oledzki who has made 22 first-team appearances this year.
“We’re looking forward to it,” Burrow said. “We just have to go there and play well.”
Leeds Rhinos under-19s (at St Helens): Whitton, Markland, Broadbent, Newman, Hartley, Spence, Chapman-Smith, Oledzki, Johnson, Darley, L Sutcliffe, Trout, McConnell. Subs Whiteley, Dupree, Mustapha, Holroyd.