LIAM SUTCLIFFE has confirmed he wants to play stand-off for Leeds Rhinos next season.
The 22-year-old began the 2016 season in the play-making role, but made a successful switch to full-back mid-way through the year.
Sutcliffe made 13 successive appearances as Rhinos’ last line of defence before returning to stand-off for the final game of the season.
He has been named in the No 6 position for Rhinos’ Wetherby Whaler Festive Challenge clash with visitors Wakefield Trinity on Boxing Day and hopes that is a sign of things to come.
“I want to play at half-back this year,” Sutcliffe confirmed.
“Ashton [Golding, who has been awarded Rhinos’ No 1 jersey] is going to be doing a job for us at full-back so hopefully this year I want to nail down the stand-off position and have a really good season there.”
Sutcliffe made 31 appearances last season, after returning at the start of the year from a long-term knee injury.
He has 90 senior games to his credit since his debut in 2013 and reckons the experience of players at full-back has made him a better player.
“Full-back has made me learn and realise a fair few things that I can take into the half-back position,” he said.
“You think you have an idea of how to play half-back, but I think full-back gives you a better understanding on the type of things I need to be doing at half-back.
“It is a bit weird how full-back and half-back can be the same type of role.
“There’s a fair bit I’ve learned and hopefully I can take that into the season.”
After flirting with relegation this year, Sutcliffe is expecting better things from Rhinos in 2017.
He said: “I am confident, with how everyone is and how they are training and how determined everyone is to get back out there.
“It has been really good and we are really looking forward to the season.
“We have had a big chunk of numbers in training since day one and the England boys came back on Monday so we can go from strength to strength.
“We will be training hard into the new year and come February we will be ready to go.”
Sutcliffe reckons Boxing Day’s game is an opportunity for Rhinos to lay a marker down.
Wakefield went on to have a much-improved season after winning at Headingley last Christmas and Sutcliffe feels Leeds can do the same.
“It will be good to blow some cobwebs off from training,” he said.
“We’ve not played a game in so long, it has just been non-stop training so it’ll be good to finally get out there and have a run out.
“Pre-season has been tough so far. It has been long, but it has been really enjoyable.
“The type of thing we’ve been doing, it is all benefiting us.
“It has been tough, what we’ve been doing, but at the same time we’ve been having fun with it as well and we are really determined to try and have a good year.”