Leeds Rhinos’ Kiwi prop Nathaniel Peteru set to lead from front

Nathaniel Peteru.
Nathaniel Peteru.
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LEADING FROM the front and making an impact are prop Nathaniel Peteru’s personal goals for when Leeds Rhinos visit Salford Red Devils on Sunday.

Peteru was left out of the side for Rhinos’ opening game of the season at Warrington Wolves, but started in the defeat away to Wigan Warriors a week ago.

Nathaniel Peteru.

Nathaniel Peteru.

That was only his 15th game for Leeds after he spent much of his debut campaign, last year, sidelined by separate injuries to both biceps.

Fully fit, the New Zealand-born front-rower – who is 6ft 2 and 17 stone – will give Rhinos added size and punch in the front-row.

He carried the ball strongly on his return to the team and admitted: “It was good to be back.”

He said: “It was a good first game for me, it was good to get it out of the way and hopefully I can build from there.

I just want to come in and make an impact in the team and lead the boys with my actions and try to step up.

Nathaniel Peteru

“We lost, but on a personal note I want to build on that and do my role from the team.

“I just want to come in and make an impact in the team and lead the boys with my actions and try to step up.

“Whatever the coach and the team needs me to do, hopefully I will do that to the best of my ability.”

It has been a tough start to the campaign for Rhinos who have conceded 60 points in their back-to-back losses and scored only 22, but Peteru insisted they will get to where they want to be, sooner rather than later.

Salford Red Devils' Lee Mossop.

Salford Red Devils' Lee Mossop.

“I think so,” he said.

“We have got some new players and a new coach so that takes time.

“I am not making any excuses, but we have played the best two teams first up so that’s kind of shown us where we’re at.

“At the end of the day we need a win and hopefully we can do that this week against Salford.”

Sunday’s hosts have won their opening two matches and are top of the table.

Leeds were thrashed 38-22 when they visited AJ Bell Stadium last July – despite the hosts having Lee Mossop sent off in the first half – and Peteru admitted: “Every time I have played Salford they have been pretty tough and I’ve noticed they always get fired up for us.

“That will be a tough game, but winning is all about confidence and momentum and, as soon as we get that, we’ll start putting those two things together nicely.”

Rhinos will take confidence from the fact they led twice at Wigan and defended well under pressure for long spells in the first half.

But the key this weekend will be playing better, for longer. Peteru recalled: “I think the first 20-30 minutes we were all over them.

“But obviously it is an 80-minute game so, as soon as we get those things together, the little things and combinations, when we get those down pat we can string some wins together.

“The boys defended really hard, especially when they had all the ball.

“We’ve been practicing that a lot, pride in our line, and I think it showed what we have been working on in training.”