SWITCHING INTO the front-row for the first time in his senior career was the sort of challenge Leeds Rhinos’ Aussie tough guy Brett Delaney relishes.
Delaney made his first start at prop for Leeds in the 30-6 win over Hull KR three days ago and he has now played in every pack position, other than hooker.
The 28-year-old former Gold Coast Titans player joined Rhinos in 2010 as a centre, but switched into the second-row during his second season at the club.
With front-rowers Ian Kirke, Kylie Leuluai and Ryan Bailey all on the casualty list and Brad Singleton not selected, Delaney insisted he was happy to step in as an emergency prop.
“I have played there before, when I was young,” he revealed. “But the last time I played front-row I was probably 16 or 17. At the start of the year I was playing in the middle, which is sort of like a prop, at loose-forward.
“I was asked to do a job by Mac (coach Brian McDermott), it was a challenge for me and I enjoyed it.
“You have got to challenge yourself every week and that was my challenge this week, to help JP (Jamie Peacock) out up front. We are a bit light in the front-row, but I stuck my hand up and had a go.”
The warmest night of the year wasn’t an ideal time for a move into the team’s engine room, but Delaney admitted: “I am an Aussie, so I’d rather play in the heat than the snow.
“The first half was a bit tough, but it was the same for both sides.
“That’s mental toughness – we are fit enough to get through. It took us 70 minutes, but we got there in the end.”
The game was scoreless until Rob Burrow’s 59th minute touchdown sparked a late flurry of points, as Leeds finished with five tries and Rovers snatched a late consolation.
“It was a bit scratchy, there was a bit of dropped ball,” Delaney said. “But coming in at half-time we knew it was going to be a challenge. The first game of the season, over there, was the same – we didn’t get that until the last 10 minutes.
“We talked about grinding the game out. Mac spoke at half-time about being patient and we showed the toughness we’ve got as a group to hang in there and grind the win out.”
Rhinos were lifted by Burrow’s comeback from a three-month lay-off due to a fractured collarbone, while Kevin Sinfield returned after missing two games because of a back problem.
Delaney said: “It has been tough with so many key players out, but it has given some young kids an opportunity. We are blessed at Leeds with great talent, those young boys have stood up and it has been great for them.”
Rhinos are back in action in three days’ time, at home to Castleford Tigers.
“Cas have proved themselves to be a good side this year,” Delaney said. “We will have to be on top of our game.
“We want to build on Friday. They will be up for it, but we’ll concentrate on our game.”