THE LATEST teenager to graduate into Leeds Rhinos’ first team went from the stand to the pitch in the space of eight days.
England academy half-back Jordan Lilley made his senior debut when he came on as a 61st minute substitute in yesterday’s 58-26 win at Wakefield Trinity Wildcats.
And the 18-year-old revealed the last time Rhinos played, he was in among the fans at the Magic Weekend showdown with Wigan Warriors.
“It was brilliant, just to get out on the field with people I’ve grown up watching,” Lilley said.
“Just last week I was watching Kev and the lads run out at St James’ Park, so it was an honour to be out there playing with them.
“I went as a fan last week, I was in the crowd chanting and singing – and this week I was side-by-side playing with them.
“I have been a Rhinos fan since I can remember and all my family are Rhinos fans.
“To be able to step out for 20 minutes, I can’t put it into words how I felt.”
Lilley has been a stand-out player in Rhinos under-19s this season.
“I wouldn’t say I was hoping to get in the team this year, but I was optimistic,” he added.
“I thought a few injuries might come about and I might get a chance, but I never really thought I’d get an opportunity this year.
“Maybe next year. You always remember your debut and I’ll definitely remember this one.”
Lilley had little chance to shine with the ball, as Wakefield dominated the final stages to run in three consolation tries.
“Mac (coach Brian McDermott) said to me, just play your normal game,” he said. “That’s what I tried to do.
“It’s hard coming on towards the back end, but I went out there and did what I had to do and hopefully I’ll have more games to come.”
Lilley, a product of the Stanningley
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amateur club, lined up alongside Rob Burrow, who coached him in Rhinos’ under-16s.
“He has been talking to me all week,” Lilley said. “He’s been telling me not to think of it as anything different, just go out and play your normal game.
“I am learning a lot and the boys were great. When I was named in the team they were all helping me.
“When I was on the pitch they were talking to me, telling me where I need to be. It’s good for my game and good for my development.
“To be around players like that, it is a real privilege.
Yesterday’s game was also memorable for Lilley’s family. He added: “When I got word on Friday I’d be playing they all bought tickets. They were all here, so it was good for them as well.”
Rhinos under-19s, without Lilley, were beaten 42-22 at Hull on Saturday.
Try scorers were Nick Rawsthorne, Ryan Jones, George Milton and Nathan Barker and Joe Sanderson kicked three goals.