WELCOME TO my first venture into the world of journalism.
Over the coming months I’ll comment on what’s happening in the world of rugby league and try to bring you an insight into the Rhinos’ changing room.
If you want to contact me, you can drop me an email via firstname.lastname@example.org
This is my testimonial year and I am hoping to meet as many fans as I can.
I was really grateful to everybody who turned up for my testimonial game the other week and it would be great to see you all at my World Club Challenge preview night next Wednesday, in the Premier Suite at Headingley (7pm).
There’ll be a pie and peas supper and a chance to mingle with players from the Rhinos and North Queensland Cowboys. Jamie Jones-Buchanan will be hosting it, which is always good for a laugh. Tickets, including food, cost £10 and you can book online at www.therhinos.co.uk/buytickets, from the stadium or by calling 0371 423 1315.
THE THING that struck me most about the first round of the season was how many injuries there were.
We suffered by losing Danny McGuire and I was sorry to hear Michael Shenton has damaged his acl and will be out for most, if not all, of the year.
I did my acl about 10 years ago and it is a bad one. It is a long road back, but the positive thing is that once you’ve had the operation and done all the re-hab, you can return with no ill-effects.
Nobody likes to see a player get injured, but we play a contact sport and these things happen.
With the way the modern game is going and the athletes that are created now, the collisions are huge and no matter how fit and well-prepared players are you can’t prevent injuries occurring.
Losing Magsy is a blow for him and us and all the lads really feel for him. He has been massive in his new role.
He was great all through pre-season and his leadership is really important for us on and off the field.
I know he was excited about leading the boys out for the first time and he was gutted to get hurt after just half an hour, but he will be back.
It isn’t too long-term, fortunately, and he is going to be back in the team, fit and raring to go at an important time in the season.
Being the professional he is, he will try and trim his time out a bit and he is going to get the best medical care. Our squad is as deep as it has ever been and when somebody is out it is an opportunity for somebody else.
It could be a chance for Jordan Lilley and Liam Sutcliffe to get some more game time and they won’t let anyone down.
We have got a lot of leaders and very experienced players in our core group and I am sure they’ll pick up the baton while Magsy is out.
You are never happy when you lose, but we were fairly content with our performance last week.
There weren’t many things we were massively worried about after the game and we gave ourselves a lot to build on.
The things that let us down were what we thought might be a problem before the game, mainly our attack near the opposition’s line.
Having the match against New Zealand in October put pre-season back by a couple of weeks and we had to cram a lot into the four, five or six weeks we had. Our defence is solid, which is a big plus. There are things we need to improve on, but it’s all easily fixable on the training field.
Last weekend showed it is going to be a very competitive season, so we need to get off the mark as quickly as possible.
The way the league is now, the most important game is the next one. It will be tough at Widnes on Sunday; they beat us there last year and they are coming off a good win at Wakefield.
It is important we improve on the areas we struggled in last week and our defence stays strong.
We need to get the two points and we also want to put in a good performance to stand us in good stead for the World Club Challenge the week after. Widnes play on a 4g pitch, which is a bit controversial.
But they have had it for a few years now and most teams probably train on all-weather surfaces, especially at this time of year. I don’t mind it, and it will probably suit us a bit.
It will be nice to get on a fast track.
And it’s definitely better than the mudbaths you sometimes get early in the season.