TEENAGER CAMERON Smith insists there was never any danger of him letting his head drop during a frustrating spell on the sidelines.
The 19-year-old was recalled to Leeds Rhinos’ 17 for last weekend’s crunch Qualifiers clash with Widnes Vikings.
He came off the bench in Leeds’ priceless 16-6 win and admitted he had been working hard to impress director of rugby Kevin Sinfield since being left out of the side last month.
Smith said: “It was lovely to be back.
“I’ve been out of the game quite a bit now with the first team and all I’ve been doing is training hard and trying to earn my spot back.
“It was good to get back out there and get the win.”
Smith was an unused substitute in Rhinos’ Betfred Super League defeat at Widnes on February 25 and made his first appearance of the season when they won at St Helens two weeks later.
He was a regular in the team until June, but the game last weekend was only his second since coach Brian McDermott was sacked and ended a run of four matches on the sidelines.
The back-rower said Sinfield outlined the reasons behind leaving him out of the team and he had no complaints about the decision.
“He said there’s a few key players in my position, they are all experienced and experience beats all at the minute,” Smith said.
“I am still learning, I am still a young kid and I am taking all I can from the likes of Jonesy [Jamie Jones-Buchanan] and Cuthbo [Adam Cuthbertson] and players like that.
“You can’t go and sulk because then you go nowhere. The best players bounce back.
“I have had to take that into the 19s, focus on some things I wasn’t too good on or not the best at and and I’ve got back in and tried to run my blood to water.”
Rhinos hit back from 6-4 down at half-time against Widnes to secure a tense victory which edged them a step closer to Super League survival.
With Leeds forced to defend for long spells, Smith did not get an opportunity to show what he can do with ball in hand, but stressed: “It’s all about being selfless in games like that.
“I’d just come off the bench and we did about six sets on the bounce so I had to get involved in the D [defence] and not as much my offense game.
“Hopefully that will come into play some time.”
The game three days ago was Smith’s 16th senior appearance for Leeds this year. I feel miles farther on than I was last year,” he said.
“Now pre-season’s around the corner it is time to get another pre-season under my belt and better myself next year.
“It is a new challenge again, with a new coach coming in. I see it as another challenge to impress Dave Furner when he comes in and hopefully I can play more games next year.”
Furner played in Smith’s position and the teenager added; “I’ll be able to take some things from him and hopefully work on what I’m not as good at and cement my spot next year.”