LEEDS RHINOS’ teenage forward Josh Jordan-Roberts reckons two months on loan at Bradford Bulls have been invaluable.
Jordan-Roberts has been recalled by Leeds and could come into contention to beef up first-team selection over the busy Easter period. Rhinos travel to Hull on Friday, are at home against Widnes Vikings on Easter Monday and then face Kingstone Press League One visitors Doncaster in the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup four days later.
Jordan-Roberts, 18, has yet to play in Betfred Super League, but made his Rhinos debut in the Qualifiers against Leigh Centurions last season and featured seven times for Bulls in the Championship.
“I’ve come back now and I played in an under-19s game last Saturday,” he said. “I feel I have improved in my time at Bradford and I’ve come back a better player.”
The Oulton Raiders product started three times for Bradford with his other appearances coming off the bench.
“It was a bit different,” he said. “Those boys have been through a lot this year. On the first day when I went into the dressing rooms, seeing the smiles on the faces after everything they’ve gone through shocked me. I fully enjoyed my time there, playing against men.”
He added: “I got some good time over there. I reckon I averaged about 30 minutes per game while I was there.
“Some results didn’t go our way and some did, but in a team that’s made up of young boys – I think the average age is something like 21 – to get the results we did is class really.”
Jordan-Roberts feels he is closer to being able to handle the step up to Super League now. He said: “I always had confidence I was ready, but going over there and playing regularly in first grade against men has benefited me massively and I am ready to go whenever he [coach Brian McDermott] wants me.”
Three games in eight days will test Rhinos’ squad, but Jordan-Roberts insisted: “I am happy to play wherever he wants me to play, 19s, over at Bradford or in the first team.
“I am always working hard and pushing for a first-team spot. It would be nice to get in, but the boys are playing really well and they’ve been getting some good results.
“Obviously last Friday at Warrington wasn’t the result we wanted, but they boys played well and they are keeping their shirts.”
The Cup tie with Doncaster could be an opportunity to give some of Rhinos’ youngsters a game.
Jordan-Roberts was in a mainly under-19s Leeds team which lost 35-34 at Doncaster in a pre-season game at the end of January. Leeds led 30-12 at half-time, but were beaten by a last-gasp drop goal and the loose-forward said: “They are a good side.
“They’ve got some big blokes and some experienced blokes in there – [Iafeta] Paleaaesina and Jamie Thackray. If that game comes around it’ll be good, I’ll be ready to play in that game if he needs me to.”
Meanwhile, Rhinos centre Jimmy Keinhorst will be available for Friday’s match.
He avoided a ban after admitting grade A dangerous contact against Warrington’s Daryl Clark.
Warrington’s Ben Westwood admitted grade D striking on Leeds’ Liam Sutcliffe and was suspended for four games.