BOSS BRIAN McDermott feels new signing Keith Galloway will be spending his best years at Leeds Rhinos.
Galloway made his first team debut for Cronulla Sharks as a 17-year-old and completed 12 years in Australia’s elite NRL before joining Rhinos from Wests Tigers on a three-season contract.
“We hope he’s approaching the best years of his career,” McDermott said of his latest recruit.
“Front-rowers are examples of where players can be thriving from 28 onwards, he’s 30 and in great nick, had a fantastic year with Wests Tigers and continues to be at the top of his game.”
Galloway has taken over squad number eight from Leeds’ most successful import Kylie Leuluai and McDermott insisted: “I don’t think there’s any pressure on Keith.
“When Kylie retired that shirt was naturally going to be handed over to someone.
“Keith has got a great name and a reasonable amount of experience in the game, so I’m sure he’ll now go on and make that shirt his own.”
Galloway was beginning pre-season today, alongside other senior players who have now completed their winter break.
McDermott is away, taking charge of the United States’ bid to qualify for the 2017 World Cup, but stressed the squad has been left in good hands.
“Between Chris Plume and Barry Eaton [his assistants], they do a fantastic job,” McDermott said.
“Chris Plume and I have worked together for four years, Jason Davidson [Rhinos’ head of athletic performance] and I have worked together for five years and this is Barry Eaton’s second year with us now.
“There’s no negatives in that.”
The World Cup Qualifiers – Americas take place next month, with the United States - who reached the knockout stages of the 2013 finals, when they were coached by ex-Castleford Tigers boss Terry Matterson – facing Jamaica and Canada.
McDermott said: “We’re not necessarily favourites. It’ll be a good challenge. The chance is there to qualify for the 2017 World Cup, but it’ll be a big task.
“Jamaica and Canada are growing in momentum and they’re continuing to recruit some impressive heritage players, so it’ll be a challenge to get qualified and get through.”
McDermott said he is keen to boost the development of rugby league in America during his time as coach. Of how he came to be involved, he added: “We went out there with the Rhinos and I was talking to the management about a whole range of things to do with rugby league, whether that’s being in a supposed grassroots area – which I’ve got experience with working with London – but also other things too.
“We were talking about the coaching side of things and it was all born out of that, they asked if I’d go over and help them and it’s an honour to try and get them qualified.
“There hasn’t been any great demands, the Rhinos role hasn’t suffered at all.”
Sheffield Eagles have added versatile performer Elliot Minchella from Leeds. The 19-year-old has agreed a two-year deal with the Eagles after impressing in a loan spell with London Broncos.
Minchella, who can operate in the second row and at loose forward, is another up and coming young prospect who will move into Mark Aston’s full-time operation for the 2016 season.