MAN OF Steel nominee Adam Cuthbertson is expecting big things from Leeds Rhinos’ latest imports.
Cuthbertson had an outstanding debut campaign, setting a new Super League record for the most off-loads and being voted the rugby league media’s player of the year.
That is a hard act to follow, but Cuthbertson is confident prop Keith Galloway and hooker Beau Falloon will prove to be outstanding recruits as Rhinos face what he predicts will be a “very big challenge” this season.
The Australian duo made their first appearance in Leeds’ Boxing Day defeat to Wakefield Trinity Wildcats and Cuthbertson felt there were encouraging signs.
Falloon – a former Gold Coast Titans player of the year, who has been brought in to replace previous No 9 Paul Aiton – had a baptism of fire, suffering concussion twice and not appearing in the second half.
But Cuthbertson said: “I think he really wanted to prove he is here to play.
“His intentions were great, it is just unfortunate he got knocked out, but he will be great for us.
“He is not too different to Paulie, he is very aggressive and he likes to get out of dummy-half.
“He just has to stay unconcussed!”
Galloway, who signed from West Tigers, has big shoes to fill following the departure of club legends Jamie Peacock and Kylie Leuluai, but Cuthbertson added: “Keith is a big thing and he is hard to put down. He is an aggressive player too, which is what you need from your front-rowers.”
Cuthbertson believes both imports will be better for having experienced the English style of rugby – and the sort of conditions they can expect for much of the season.
“I talked to Keith after the Boxing Day game and he was a bit shocked by the time between the defence getting in your face and getting the ball,” he said.
“It is a lot quicker, the line speed, over here. I think they both found the first game very interesting, especially in the conditions. I have told them it will only get better!”
Rhinos’ England players Ryan Hall, Zak Hardaker and Kallum Watkins all reported in to begin pre-season training yesterday, exactly a month before the champions’ opening First Utility Super League fixture at home to Warrington Wolves.
Leeds were well below-par in their initial pre-season hit-out, but Cuthbertson insisted that is no indication of how they will fare when the real business begins.
He said: “It was interesting getting out there in those conditions. It wasn’t the result we wanted, but we got to blow some cobwebs off.
“We hadn’t had a lot of time to train together so it was tough going into that game. We hadn’t had much game prep’ so we were winging it a bit, but I am sure we’ll get it together for when the season starts.
“Everyone is going to be after us so we have a very big challenge on our hands, but we’ve got the two new fellas who will bring an element of something different and then we’ve got the likes of Liam Sutcliffe coming back to full health.
“He will be great for us at five-eight and I am looking forward to seeing him play. Ashton Golding was superb on Boxing Day as well, so it is exciting times.”