HE ADMITS his form in the past couple of seasons hasn’t been up to scratch, but comeback kid Josh Walters insists he is determined to prove he can still do a job for Leeds Rhinos.
Walters has been one of Rhinos’ surprise packages this year, featuring in five of their last six games and playing 80 minutes in the 20-0 win over Salford Red Devils two days ago, when he scored Leeds’ final try.
“I am enjoying it,” he said of his return to the side. “I have slipped down the pecking order a bit, but injuries have allowed me to play and I am enjoying my rugby. I know I’ve got a long way to go before I can keep my place in the first team, but, at the same time, it’s a team sport and if there’s any way I can come in and really add to the team and help us push on and keep going forward, then I am happy to do that.”
The 23-year-old former Yorkshire Carnegie player scored the game-breaking try in Rhinos’ 2015 Grand Final win over Wigan Warriors, but made only 13 appearances the following year and nine last term and was demoted from No 21 in Leeds’ squad to No 30 in the closed season.
“I haven’t done as well as I’d have liked to over the last couple of years and I haven’t played as much as I would have liked to,” he conceded.
“I’ve had a couple of niggles that have maybe stopped a bit of progress, but there’s nothing you can do about that. It is part and parcel of the game.
“Naturally it happens, but I have got to get on with it and take my chances when I can and just enjoy my rugby. The squad number doesn’t really mean anything, especially when there’s injuries.
“Just because I’ve got a different squad number doesn’t mean I am any less of a player than how I feel I am. That’s the important thing for me, that I am confident and I am in a good position. I know I can perform, I have just got to back myself.”
Walters is out of contract at the end of this season, so needs to be playing regularly to either earn a new deal at Leeds or impress another club.
“I thought about that last year,” he said. “Maybe I put a bit too much stress on myself and I think this year I’ve just got to enjoy it and whatever happens, happens whether it’s here or at a different club.
“Obviously I’d like to be here, it’s a great club and I’ve had four or five great years here, but at the moment I am taking it one game at a time, enjoying it and hopefully I can aid the team the best way I can.”
Walters’ performance against Salford was an impressive response to being left out of the side which drew 22-22 at Huddersfield Giants in Leeds’ opening game of the Easter weekend.
“I was disappointed not to play on Friday, naturally,” he said. “But I was made aware I would probably be used on Monday, so I got myself in good condition ready to go.
“We’ve got a lot of tired forwards, a lot of injuries in the pack, so it was really important people who come into the team, such as me, back up the good work that’s been laid down in the past couple of weeks.”