Leeds Rhinos: Sutcliffe happy to continue on his learning curve

Liam Sutcliffe
Liam Sutcliffe
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HAT-TRICK HERO Liam Sutcliffe says he does not expect to play for Leeds Rhinos every week.

Sutcliffe bagged three tries in last Sunday’s 58-26 romp at Wakefield Trinity Wildcats, after being recalled from a one-game absence.

The 20-year-old got his chance out of position at full-back when Zak Hardaker was forced to miss the game due to an ankle injury.

Earlier in the season he was preferred at stand-off to Kevin Sinfield, but was left out of the team when the captain was recalled.

Sutcliffe has been included in Rhinos’ initial 19-man squad for tomorrow’s visit of Castleford Tigers, but insisted he is still learning the game and is not guaranteed a place, despite some impressive form this term.

“That’s fine,” said the former Hunslet Warriors junior. “I want to be in the team every week, but if I don’t get picked one week it doesn’t change my mindset or my training mentality.

“I am always training really hard and if I don’t get the nod I’m not one to sulk, I just get on with it, train hard the following week and hopefully get picked again.”

Sutcliffe has played in all but five of Rhinos’ 18 competitive games this year and he admitted: “At the start of the year I wasn’t really happy.

“I wasn’t getting a lot of game time and I wasn’t really doing a lot when I came on. When I started to get a run at No 6 I felt like I was really improving and getting more confident per game.

“Hopefully I can kick on. I know I’ve still got a lot more improving to do, but I have been happy with how it has gone so far.”

Sunday was Sutcliffe’s first senior hat-trick, in his debut as the last line of defence. He said: “I’ve filled in for bits this season and the year before, but I’ve not really played it fully since I was an amateur.

“I thought it went all right, but Zak is a quality full-back.”

Sutcliffe has also played centre, wing, in the halves and back-row for Rhinos since making his debut in 2013.

“I think the only positions I haven’t played are prop and hooker,” he said. “It’s good, I don’t mind filling in. It is great to play for Leeds and it is always an honour to pull on the shirt, so wherever Mac (coach Brian McDermott) puts me in the team I don’t mind filling in.”

Of the three tries at the weekend, he said: “I was really happy to get my first hat-trick.

“When I got my second try I was hoping to get chance to get my third and I managed to finally get over.

“We threw a lot at them and managed to trouble them a bit.”

Rhinos led 58-10 after 70 minutes and Sutcliffe added: “In the final 10 minutes we let a few tries in and there was some sloppy defence, but overall it was all right.

“We’ve got a quick turnaround (to tomorrow night) and we’re under no illusions it’s going to be a massive game against Cas, as they always are. We’ve recovered well and we’ll be ready to go.”

Disgraced England star Zak Hardaker in action for Castleford Tigers. (Picture: Bruce Rollinson)

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