Leeds Rhinos v Wakefield Trinity: Shooting Star Jack Broadbent ready to fight for place in Super League 2022 after stunning breakthrough year

Shooting Star Jack Broadbent has spoken of his pride at winning one of Leeds Rhinos’ most prestigious awards.

By Peter Smith
Friday, 24th December 2021, 11:44 am

The 21-year-old topped the Yorkshire Evening Post’s annual readers’ vote to choose the most impressive player, aged 24 or younger, of the past campaign.

The award capped a remarkable year for Broadbent, who signed a new contract, scored nine tries in 14 games and was called into the England Knights squad for their autumn international against Jamaica.

“There was some tough competition, I was up against Morgan [Gannon], Tom [Holroyd] and Jarrod [O’Connor] and I reckon it was pretty close, so I am really pleased to win it,” Broadbent said.

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Jack Broadbent. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com.

The former Batley Boys and Dewsbury Moors junior, who overcame a serious ankle injury midway through the campaign, admitted 2021 exceeded his expectations.

He added: “I thought I’d play maybe around five games this year, but getting to 14, I am really pleased.

"It is a real honour to play for this club and then it was topped off by playing for England Knights and I had a pretty good game, too.”

Now Broadbent is determined to avoid ‘second season syndrome’ - when a player fails to build on a breakthrough campaign, beginning by laying down a marker against Wakefield Trinity in the Wetherby Whaler Festive Challenge on Boxing Day.

Jack Broadbent scores the first of two tries on his England Knights debut against Jamaica. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.

“I am looking forward to it,” he said.

“I have got to work hard for my place in the squad again.

“Players are back fit and my chances might not come as easily this year, but I have just got to fight my way back in.

“I remember saying this time last year I wanted a big pre-season to kick on and I am exactly the same again.

“I want to impress Rich [Agar, Rhinos’ coach] and put my front foot forward.”

Rhinos have solid competition for places at centre, with Harry Newman, Liam Sutcliffe, David Fusitu’a and Tom Briscoe among those ahead of Broadbent in the squad number ranking, while teenager Max Simpson is now snapping at his heels.

“Max is a really promising young player,” Broadbent noted.

“I get along with him and I am trying to take him under my wing like a few players did with me, give him a few tips and stuff.

“We’ve got Liam Sutcliffe, Harry Newman, David Fusitu’a, so I am going up against some of the best talents in the game and while I am going up against them, I am learning from them as well.

“I think it is a good place to be.”

Broadbent can also play at full-back, on a wing or in the halves, which adds to his value.

“At this point in my career I am probably a bit of a utility-player, just taking my chances where I can,” he stressed.

“But my favourite position, where I am probably most confident, is cente.

“I have played a handful of games there and I think they’ve been my best by far for the club.

“I don’t really want to get too lost in that ‘we don’t really know what his position is’.

"I have made it clear I am a centre, all through the scholarship and academy I have played centre, but obviously showing that versatility to fit in the first team is what you need.

“There might be centres fit all year and then I’d never get a game, so I am just doing my best to play wherever I can.”

Agar has named a strong initial squad for Sunday and Broadbent knows a good performance is the first step towards a place in the side to face Warrington Wolves in Betfred Super League round one.

He said: “It gives Rich the confidence he can pick you.

"I think I did that last year, giving him the confidence if he needs to throw me in he can.

"It is part of our pre-season preparation, we are going to build on it and learn things from it and it’s a real stepping stone for us to kick on.”

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