Leeds Rhinos: Prop Cuthbertson feels he’s suited to fresh role

Adam Cuthbertson
Adam Cuthbertson
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AT HIS current rate, import Adam Cuthbertson could match his NRL tally of tries by the end of his debut season for Leeds Rhinos.

The 29-year-old prop touched down just 12 times in 147 appearances for Manly, Cronulla, St George and Newcastle, but has crossed in all three of Rhinos’ home games so far this term.

Super League’s attacking style suits ball-playing forwards more than the NRL, where the emphasis is on defence and Cuthbertson reckons being able to play his natural game is working out well for both him and the team.

“It’s a totally different role in this team,” said Cuthbertson, who was man of the match in the 26-14 win over Wigan Warriors last week and is already being rated as one of the competition’s best recent signings –and for a possible England call-up at the end of the season.

“I can test my hand a little bit more in this team. In the NRL everything is a bit more manufactured and I had a bit of a different role.”

Cuthbertson, whose father is from Warrington, confirmed coach Brian McDermott has encouraged him to express himself on the pitch.

“I am really enjoying it,” he said. “It has been great since I have been here. Mac has worked really hard with me, working on my confidence and just playing what I see and the main thing, just enjoying my footy.”

He added: “I can’t say I didn’t enjoy playing in the NRL, but I know my ability and I had to tame it a bit. That’s a hard thing to do in its own right, knowing when and when not to pass the ball or off-load or even when to just run. Obviously I have gained from the role I had over there and I am trying to mix it up a bit here.”

McDermott claimed after Friday’s game Cuthbertson has the skills to play as a pivot, if he was “a little bit sharper and faster.” The player himself said: “If you ask my family and everyone I’ve grown up with, they’d always say I’ve tried to do that. I’ve copped a bit of flak over the years for having a bit more of a game in me, but unfortunately I grew up a bit tall, so I found myself in the loose-forward and front-row role.”

Of last week’s performance, he said: “I had a really conscious effort to get good go-forward first, for the team. In the first half I just tried to cart the ball forward as much as possible and get the team on the front foot. I really enjoy that role so I am glad I did it last week. I am just looking, along with JP (Jamie Peacock) and JJB (Jamie Jones-Buchanan), to go forward and do the same thing this Saturday. We are still working really as a group, the three of us. We are still pretty fresh up front together and we’re learning each other’s game. It is looking better and better every week.”