GRAND FINAL hero Josh Walters says he is ready to “smash” pre-season in an attempt to re-establish himself in Leeds Rhinos’ first team.
Walters, 22, has made just eight appearances for Rhinos this term and played a similar number of games on dual-registration at Featherstone Rovers.
Now, after making his comeback from injury with Rovers last week, Walters admits he is already thinking ahead to next year and forcing his way back into boss Brian McDermott’s plans.
Walters, who confirmed he is under contract to Leeds for 2018, scored the try which set up Kevin Sinfield’s winning conversion in the 2015 Grand Final, but has played only 21 times for Rhinos in the almost two years since.
“If I do get another chance this season I am ready to take that, but if not I have just got to smash pre-season and kick on from there and hopefully, touch wood, stay injury-free,” he said.
“My game time this year has been disruptive – one week at Leeds and one week at Fev and it is hard to get a good run going. It will be nice to get a break, step back for a few weeks and start smashing pre-season again.”
Walters said he was relieved to get back on the field in Rovers’ 26-12 defeat at Catalans Dragons last weekend.
“It was my first game in a while,” he added. “I got injured playing for Leeds against Salford about two months ago.
“I was out for about a month and I’ve just been working hard for the last month trying to put myself in a position where if I am called upon I am ready to go.
“I am thankful to Fev for giving me an opportunity last week.”
Walters, who was among Rovers’ substitutes, was placed on report for an alleged ‘squirrel grip’ tackle on an opponent.
He was charged with “other contrary behaviour” by the Rugby Football League’s match review panel, but avoided a ban after submitting an early guilty plea and is in contention to face Warrington Wolves in the Qualifiers on Sunday.
After a stop-start year he said he is desperate to play as often as he can before the end of the campaign.
“I’ve had a couple of disruptive injuries, which haven’t been ideal,” he said.
“But I can’t really do anything about that, that’s down to luck or whatever. I will keep working hard and when I do get my opportunity next, wherever it might be, I will make the most of it.”
Walters is one of eight Leeds players to have played for Rovers this year.
“It has been good, I have enjoyed it,” he said.
“They are a good set of lads there and Sharpy [Jon Sharp] was a really good coach. John Duffy seems like a good coach as well, I have only had a couple of sessions with him and played for him at the weekend, but he seems to have a good idea of what he wants going forward and they are a competitive team.
“They played against Catalans who are a full-time team and a strong outfit and put in a really solid performance and on another day we could probably have beaten them.”
Meanwhile, Hunslet RLFC have announced that strong running centre Mufaro Mvududu has signed a 12-month contract extension keeping him at the club for the 2018 season. Mvududu, aged 26, joined the club in September 2014 following an impressive season for London Skolars. He has gone on to score 25 tries in 45 appearances for the club.