Leeds Rhinos: Rising star Smith eyes first-team progression

Cameron Smith.
Cameron Smith.
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RISING STAR Cameron Smith is planning to mount a challenge for a first-team place with Leeds Rhinos next year.

Smith, 17, has already had a brief taste of Super League action as a substitute in Rhinos’ defeat at Huddersfield Giants four months ago, despite being in his first season as an under-19s player.

He returned last week from England academy’s three-game tour of Australia and said that has given him an idea of how much he needs to improve as he aims to make a senior breakthrough.

“I want to get a big pre-season under my belt and get a bit more physical and hopefully see if I can get a shot next year,” Smith said.

“We will have to see how things turn out, but it has been a really big year for me. I started off playing on Boxing Day, I managed to make my debut this year and also to get man of the match in Australia was a big honour.”

Smith was England’s outstanding player in their 50-12 second-Test loss to the Aussies. They were also beaten 50-26 in the first game of the series, but Smith reckons the gap is not as wide as those results suggest.

“It was a good experience,” he said of the recent tour. “Playing over there has been a dream of mine, so to achieve that was good. We didn’t quite get what we wanted, but I’m sure we’ll go back and try and do it again.

“In my opinion the scorelines don’t reflect what we did.

“They were just really physical and a lot bigger than us. The game is so wide over there and they have so many players to pick from.

“We only had what we have in the academy so it was tough, but a big learning curve.

“It opened my eyes to greater opposition than what I am used to playing against this year.

“It’s shown me what to aspire to. They are deemed to be the best league and if you aspire to being that I am sure you’ll get out what you put in.”

Wakefield Trinity winger Judah Mazive and second-row James Batchelor have both made their Super League debut since returning from the tour and Smith expects more members of the England squad to burst on to the scene over the next few seasons. He said: “Batch is a good example.

“He had four weeks out there, he got stuck in and he has got the rewards. He has worked hard and gone back and [Wakefield coach] Chris Chester has given him a shot. That’s what everyone wants to aspire to, playing in Super League.”

Meanwhile, votes are being taken for the Leeds Rhinos Yorkshire Evening Post Shooting Star award.

Nominees are Ashton Golding, Jordan Lilley, Brad Singleton and Josh Walters. To vote, please email yepsportcompetitions@ypn.co.uk (entering Shooting Star as the email subject). Please include your name, address and a daytime phone number. Alternatively, send your entry on a postcard or the back of a sealed envelope, to Shooting Star, Sports Desk, Yorkshire Evening Post, No 1 Leeds, 26 Whitehall Road, Leeds, LS12 1BE. Voting closes at 5pm on Monday.

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