Leeds Rhinos: McLelland happy to be at ‘home’ in Headingley

Callum McLelland.
Callum McLelland.
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CODE-BREAKER CALLUM McLelland already reckons he has found a home at Leeds Rhinos.

The 18-year-old former Castleford Tigers academy half-back joined Rhinos from Edinburgh Rugby Union Club two weeks ago.

Tuimoala Lolohea.

Tuimoala Lolohea.

It was his second major move in less than a year, after heading north last November, but he insisted he is at Leeds to stay.

“It was the right choice,” said the Pontefract-born playmaker who is ineligible to play for Rhinos this year, but has begun full-time training with his new team-mates.

He turned down interest from other Betfred Super League clubs to sign for Rhinos and confirmed: “I am the happiest I’ve ever been at the minute and I’ve settled in really well.

“The size of the club and the history it has got, whenever Leeds are interested in you it is a massive thing and I couldn’t really look past it, to be fair.”

Leeds Rhinos' Richie Myler.

Leeds Rhinos' Richie Myler.

McLelland played eight times for Scotland under-20s and represented them at the World Cup in France earlier this summer, but failed to settle in the 15-a-side code.

“Up there wasn’t for me,” he said.

“Living up there by myself was a big decision, it was definitely the right decision at the time, but looking back I wasn’t enjoying my rugby up there.

“It is a great set-up, but it just wasn’t for me.

“Now I am happy to be back in rugby league.”

McLelland was Kevin Sinfield’s first recruit as Rhinos’ director of rugby.

Fellow half-back Tuimoala Lolohea had already signed for Leeds, but that deal was largely done before Sinfield returned to the club.

“He was one of my idols when I was younger,” McLelland said of Sinfield.

“For him to sort my deal out and to kind of mentor me, it is a massive opportunity.”

McLelland. who captained England at under-16 and under-18 level, will be qualified to play academy rugby in 2019 and is likely to start the season as Rhinos’ third-choice half-back behind Richie Myler and Lolohea.

“Like every player I want to play in the first team and the sooner I do it, the better,” he said.

“I would love to play next year.

“Training full-time with this group of lads will bring me on and bring me up to full pace.

“All being well next year I’ll get my shot and I’ll take it.

“Tui is a really talented player and it’ll be good competition. Obviously I want to learn from Richie and Tui as well. Richie has done it all and it has been really good to train alongside him already.”

McLelland was signed after the transfer deadline at the end of July so will have to wait until pre-season to make his debut. It is what it is,” he said.

“I just need to keep my head down and keep working hard.

“And, hopefully, I’ll be in good condition for the start of next year.

“When pre-season does come I’ll be the fittest I’ve been for a while so I am really looking forward to it.”