LEEDS RHINOS’ Liam Sutcliffe says he is “good to go” – and happy to continue in yet another new role if asked.
Sutcliffe defied a quad muscle injury to feature in last week’s 34-0 win over Widnes Vikings, playing out of position in the second-row.
That was his fourth different position in 12 appearances this season, having also started at centre, stand-off and scrum-half, as well as having a spell as a full-back in the past.
Director of rugby Kevin Sinfield will name his initial 19-man squad for Friday’s Betfred Super League finale at Salford Red Devils this afternoon and Sutcliffe has put his hand up to play.
A foot injury kept him sidelined for all but one game between February and June and the 22-year-old is keen for as much game-time as possible, particularly with a Ladbrokes Challenge Cup semi-final against Warrington Wolves looming in 12 days’ time.
Outlining last week’s scare, Sutcliffe said: “Doing some kicking practice on Wednesday it was pretty painful and if it hadn’t settled down on Thursday I probably wouldn’t have played.
It was good to get the win and see smiles on people’s faces after the game. We haven’t had that for a while so everyone was pretty pleased after the game.Liam Sutcliffe
“That’s why I didn’t risk kicking, but I will be good to go on Friday. It has settled down quite a lot this week.”
Jamie Jones-Buchanan, Stevie Ward, Brett Delaney and Brett Ferres were all unavailable last week, prompting Sutcliffe’s move from the backs into the pack.
“It’s just another position I had to do due to injuries,” he added. “Kev pulled me at the start of the week and asked me if that was all right and I said it’s no problem at all.
“I enjoyed it. Maybe one day I will end up there and if that’s the case that’s fine, but for the moment me and Kev have spoken and, barring injuries, hopefully I can get a run at centre.”
There will be nothing at stake on the table on Friday, but Sutcliffe insists Rhinos need to put in a good performance.
“It is a bit of a nothing game, but it’s chance to get a bit of momentum going into the semi-final and the middle-eights as well,” he said.
The victory last Friday was Rhinos’ first in 10 Super League matches and almost three months.
“It was good to get the win and see smiles on people’s faces after the game,” Sutcliffe admitted. “We haven’t had that for a while so everyone was pretty pleased after the game.
“We came in on Monday morning a bit disappointed knowing our fate has already been sealed, but we’ve just got to get on with things now and we know we’ve got a big few weeks ahead.
“That’s why we’ll go into Friday’s game wanting to put in a good performance and get a good result. Hopefully, we can build some momentum on the back of last week’s game and we’re going to need to try and build our confidence even more going into the semi-final and the middle-eights, which is going to be tough.”
Rhinos won six of their seven Qualifiers fixtures two years ago, but Sutcliffe reckons this time will be tougher.
“It was tough last time,” he recalled. “No-one wants to be in the middle-eights because of the pressure that’s around you, but we are going to try and grasp the opportunity and, hopefully, make some statements.”