Leeds Rhinos: Parcell out to build on a positive first foray

Matt Parcell.
Matt Parcell.
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IT WILL take him time to adjust to new team-mates and the way the game is played in Betfred Super League, but Australian hooker Matt Parcell is happy with how his career at Leeds Rhinos has begun.

Parcell made his first appearance in blue and amber when Rhinos beat Hull KR 30-4 in Ryan Hall’s testimonial game four days ago and described his debut as “good, a lot of fun.”

The former Brisbane Broncos and Manly Sea Eagles man played 68 minutes, broken by a brief rest in the second half, and he reflected: “Obviously there’s a few things we can work on, a few combinations, but considering I’ve only been here a week and had two training sessions, it was a good hit-out.”

Parcell showed glimpses of his pace running out of acting-half and the way he distributed the ball suggested he will be a key figure for Rhinos this year.

The speedy 24-year-old is likely to get a second run-out on Friday when Rhinos visit Featherstone Rovers, who have won all their four pre-season games so far, including a 28-20 result against a strong Wakefield Trinity side two days ago. Rhinos complete their pre-season schedule at Doncaster two days later, when coach Brian McDermott is expected to field a team made up of fringe players and under-19s.

“The best way to see where we’re at and what we need to work on is by playing games,” Parcell said.

“Obviously as we train more and play more I am going to understand the guys and what they want and they are going to understand me better.

“But considering we’d had a week’s training it [Friday’s game] wasn’t bad.”

Fitness isn’t an issue for the 24-year-old, who was in pre-season training with Manly before signing for Leeds in December, but last week was the first time he has played in near-freezing conditions.

“I’m still getting used to the cold air in my lungs,” he admitted.

“In the first half, when we did a bit of defence, I was taking a few deep breaths, but I felt a lot better in the second half.”

Parcell is still learning about the European game, but his first impression is it will suit the way he likes to play.

“It’s a bit more open than the NRL,” said the former Brisbane Broncos forward, who played 15 times for Manly in Australia’s top competition last year.

“That’s good for me. I think once we get those combinations going there’s going to be plenty of opportunities.”

Rovers, who were relegated to the Kingstone Press Championship at the end of last season, matched Rhinos for much of the game and trailed only 6-4 after 38 minutes.

But three tries in rapid succession either side of the break put Leeds in total control.

It was a big improvement from Rhinos’ performance against Wakefield Trinity on Boxing Day.

Assessing Leeds’ team effort, Parcell said: “The first half was pretty tough. We made a few errors and did a lot of defence, but in the second half we got a few combinations going.

“We’ve still got a few weeks before the season starts and, hopefully, with more training we are going to develop combinations and we’ll be ready to go when the season starts.”

A crowd of 6,301 turned out for Friday’s game at Headingley Carnegie, and Parcell reckoned the occasion lived up to expectations.

“It was very loud, with 6,000 there,” he said.

“I can imagine with 10,000 there it’s going to be really loud and a great atmosphere.”

He added: “Everyone has been very welcoming and very friendly, which has been good.

“It was great to start meeting the fans and to get an ovation like that was pretty cool.”