COACH ROB Burrow is confident Leeds Rhinos’ under-19s are on course for a good season.
Rhinos will send a young team to Keighley Cougars on Sunday when the sides compete for the Derek Hallas Trophy (3pm).
Rhinos’ youngsters won 20-16 Coventry Bears three weeks ago and were beaten 34-28 away to another League One side Hunslet last Sunday and Burrow has seen positive signs.
“This is our last one,” he confirmed. “We will probably have a game against City of Hull the week before we start, that might be a full game or it might be an opposed session.
“I think we are looking all right, we will be good this year. The guys training in the first team, I think that shows when they come down to us in their physical development and I think we will have a good side.
“I am anticipating them being successful and the experience in games like last Sunday and this week, while last year I thought it was probably a bit early now it will be a good chance to see where they are at.”
Rhinos tend to build their academy teams from the bottom up, with first years making up the bulk of the squad.
“That’s good,” Burrow said. “There’s a good number of players have come up this year and I thought the second half last week was really good.
“If it was a mid-season game you’d pick up 100 things to be negative on, but as it was a pre-season friendly against a team with a bit of experience I thought it was pretty positive.”
One first year Burrow believes could make it in the professional game is full-back Iwan Stephens, son of former Leeds Tykes and Wales rugby union fly-half Colin Stephens.
“Iwan is a little Jack in the box,” Burrow said of the youngster who was among the try scorers last week.
“He has shown some good qualities. When he was in the scholarship he was one of the best.
“He is just one of those guys who needs to pick up the technical and tactical side of his position, but individually he is going to be something special.”
Dan Waite-Pullan, who is an injury doubt and Alex Sutcliffe are the only non-academy qualified players in contention for Sunday.