JOINING THE Betfred Super League champions is daunting enough, but recruit Brad Dwyer faces additional challenges.
He has come into the squad in place of retired Rhinos legend Rob Burrow and has Matt Parcell – fans’ player of the year runner-up for the club award and Leeds’ only 2017 Dream Team member – ahead of him as first-choice hooker.
That is nothing new for Dwyer, who has joined Leeds from Warrington Wolves on a two-year contract – and he insisted his priority is making an impact for the team rather than being in the starting line-up every week.
“I don’t know whether I’ve been fortunate or unfortunate with the players I’ve had in front of me,” said Dwyer who began pre-season training this week.
“I’ve had Micky Monaghan, Micky Higham, Daz Clark and now I’ve got Matt.
“It’s something that doesn’t necessarily bother me.
“Game time bothers me, I want to be on the field – I don’t want to sit behind anyone – but if I am playing well and I’m not getting a good chance that’s a different issue.
“As long as I am pushing him and I get a fair crack, hopefully we can get a decent partnership. It doesn’t matter who’s starting, for me, it is about getting the best out of me and Matt and what’s best for the team and being involved in the big games.”
If he begins the season as Leeds’ interchange hooker Dwyer, whose debut could come against his former club in round one, will be following in the footsteps of Burrow, who is fifth on the club’s all-time list of appearances and has now joined the backroom staff.
Asked if that puts him under extra pressure, Dwyer said: “There might be from certain people who might see it like that, but I don’t.
“I am very fortunate to get a chance to fill those shoes and it is amazing everything he has achieved, but personally I don’t see it that way.
“I see it as me coming into a fresh challenge and that has its own difficulties and its own challenges.
“It is about me impressing and then, if I can do anything and fill those shoes, that’s fair enough, but if not and I do myself justice then that’s enough for me.”
Burrow and Danny McGuire, who has joined Hull KR, both made their debut in 2001 and were at the heart of Rhinos’ eight Super League title triumphs.
Jamie Jones-Buchanan is the only member of Rhinos’ 2004 Grand Final-winning side still in the squad, but Dwyer reckons the end of an era doesn’t mean a halt to Leeds’ success.
“They are two massive names, but it is not a big clearout,” said the 24-year-old.
“It is two players – they are massive names and massive players and characters, but they’ve got Hally [Ryan Hall] and Jamie Jones and Kallum Watkins and people who have been there and done it and have been around those players and I would imagine it is their time to step up and push it on to these young lads.
“That’s what they seem to keep doing, getting young lads coming through and being involved in it for years and keeping the environment going.
“The main thing for me is to come in and fit in and try and learn from that and then push it on to the young lads coming through.”