LEEDS RHINOS’ new Aussie signing Matt Parcell will make a big impact in Super League, his former and future team-mate Mitch Garbutt reckons.
Leeds paid Manly Sea Eagles an undisclosed fee to sign Parcell on a three-year contract before Christmas.
He will replace James Segeyaro who refused to return for pre-season training despite signing a two-year deal last September.
Rhinos were beaten just once in 10 games following Segeyaro’s arrival on loan from Penrith Panthers and the former NRL hooker of the year played a key role in their successful battle against relegation.
Parcell is less experienced – having played six NRL matches for Brisbane in 2015 and 15 with Manly last term – but Garbutt feels he will prove an inspired signing.
“I was at Brisbane when Matt was there,” Garbutt said.
“I played Queensland Residents with him and he will be really good for us, with Chico going.
“Matt will bring a lot to the team. Once we learn to play off him and play with him we will benefit from that.”
Garbutt has spoken to Parcell about the move to Leeds and added: “He is really keen, when I spoke to him he said ‘I want to get over there as soon as I can’.
“Everything has come together for him and he’s excited to get here.
“I have said to him he has an opportunity to come over here and do really well and he’s excited about that.
“I know the players are excited. He is a really nice fella, he has got a good head on his shoulders and I can’t wait to get him here.”
Meanwhile, Garbutt admitted Rhinos need to up their game following the 30-6 loss to Wakefield Trinity in their opening pre-season fixture.
He said: “Obviously it wasn’t good enough for us, but you move on don’t you?
“It is still early days. We have had a really good pre-season, that was the disappointing thing.
“We have worked really hard, it has been good, one of the best pre-seasons I have been involved in.
“All the boys felt really fit and that was one positive, but a few things weren’t good enough.
“We didn’t really have much bite in good ball.
“There were some positives to take out of it – the fact everyone felt really fit and there were no injuries – but overall, not good enough.”
Garbutt also reckons some of Leeds’ young and less experienced players did themselves justice against Wakefield.
“I thought they did really well,” he reflected.
“Jack Ormondroyd played really solid and Cory Aston showed he has got a bit of mongrel in him and he’s willing to put his body in front and have a big.
“That’s really good and I thought Jordan Baldwinson put his hand up and did reasonably well as well.”
Rhinos are expected to send a fringe team to Hunslet for the Harry Jepson OBE Memorial Cup tie on Sunday, January 15.
Their first-choice players are likely to be involved in Ryan Hall’s testimonial game against Hull KR at Headingley the following Friday.
The whole squad will be used over the final weekend of pre-season matches, when Leeds visit Featherstone Rovers on January 27 and Doncaster two days later.
Leeds kick off the new Betfred Super League season with a trip to St Helens on Thursday, February 9 and Garbutt reckons there is time to put things right.
“It is early days,” he stressed.
“It [Boxing Day] showed us where we are at and where we need to improve.
“We will make sure we come into the season ready.”
Joel Moon, Danny McGuire and Rob Burrow did not feature against Wakefield after ending last season on the casualty list.
Also watching from the sidelines on Boxing Day were England trio Kallum Watkins, Ryan Hall and Stevie Ward, Brett Ferres – who pulled out of the Four Nations internationals due to injury – and the suspended Jamie Jones-Buchanan.
Prop Keith Galloway is now back at Leeds after an extended break in his native Australia.
He is likely to be sidelined until at least Easter after suffering a torn Achilles in the penultimate game of last season.