FIRST IMPRESSIONS tend to last and Brad Dwyer is determined to make a good one when Leeds Rhinos visit Wakefield Trinity on Boxing Day.
The 24-year-old hooker has joined Rhinos from Warrington Wolves on a two-year contract and will be stepping into the boots vacated by club legend Rob Burrow.
Dwyer – one of three recruits named in Leeds’ squad for the Wetherby Whaler Festive Challenge – is likely to begin the Betfred Super League campaign as understudy to Dream Team No 9 Matt Parcell.
But with the Aussie yet to star pre-season, next Tuesday’s derby gives him an early chance to stake a claim and he stressed he is determined to make the most of the opportunity.
“I am coming here and I’ve got no history yet,” said Dwyer, who made 75 Super League appearances for Warrington from 2012 to last season and also had an eight-match stint with Huddersfield Giants in 2013.
“It is about starting off and hopefully getting off on the front foot.
I am eager to impress and that makes you feel good about yourself, so I am really excited about it. It’s a bit strange [playing on Boxing Day] and it does take the edge off Christmas, which is a time you want to spend with your family.Brad Dwyer
“It is all about first impressions and that’s what I am keen to do.”
Dwyer accepts it will take something special to displace Parcell, who made a huge impact for Leeds last term.
The Aussie joined signed for Leeds on December 21, 2016 and played a key role in their title triumph, being named fans’ player of the year and runner-up for the club honour.
Dwyer is going into the year with his eyes open and he stressed: “I am just going to try and take it week by week and seal that spot on the bench early doors and get some competition with Matt and see how we go.
“I just want to make sure I am in the team and I get some decent minutes.”
Dwyer has been training with his new club since November 13 and Tuesday’s 11.30am kick-off can’t come soon enough.
“I am looking forward to it now we’re not that far off,” he said.
“It’s a long pre-season and you put a lot of work in.
“I am eager to impress and that makes you feel good about yourself, so I am really excited about it.
“It’s a bit strange [playing on Boxing Day] and it does take the edge off Christmas, which is a time you want to spend with your family.
“But this year I am a bit more excited for it and I am definitely looking forward to it because it is my first chance to impress and I am eager to do so.”
Both coaches have named a strong squad and Dwyer is expecting a competitive encounter against last year’s surprise package.
“They are on the up at the minute, Wakefield,” he said.
“Every time I’ve played them in the past I’ve always had a tough experience.
“A few of the lads have said they always turn up on Boxing Day and they’ve had a few decent results.
“It will be a decent test for us and it’s all about us getting out there and trying some combinations and seeing how we are looking and what we need to work on.”
Born in Wigan, Dwyer has moved out of his comfort zone, but declared himself happy with the way things have gone so far.
“I am more or less settled now,” he added.
“I’ve been here over a month, I was one of the first ones in [at pre-season training].
“I’ve still not got a place over here, I am travelling at the minute.
“That’s the only issue, but that should be sorted mid-January.
“I am looking forward to that, but training-wise I am with the boys and I feel at home now.”
Rhinos players have reported back to the club in batches since last month and Dwyer said that has helped him adapt to his new surroundings.
“They’ve done it well,” he stated.
“They got us in with the young lads early doors so it wasn’t overwhelming.
“I got on with the young lads and there’s been dribs and drabs in since.
“It feels like home and I am having a good laugh with them all, so it’s good.”
Fellow signings, half-back Richie Myler and prop Nathaniel Peteru, are also in Leeds’ starting 13.
Rhinos’ side is drawn entirely from their first-team squad and includes six members of last October’s Grand Final-winning line-up against Castleford Tigers.
Wakefield Trinity: from Ackroyd, Annakin, Arona, Arundel, Baldwinson, Batchelor, Caton-Brown, Crowther, England, Hampshire, Hirst, Hooley, Horo, Jones-Bishop, Jowitt, Kirmond, Lyne, Pauli, Randell, Tupou, Wood.
Leeds Rhinos: Golding, Briscoe, Keinhorst, Sutcliffe, Handley, Myler, Lilley, Peteru, Dwyer, Singleton, Ablett, Walters, Mullally. Subs Walker, Smith, Ormondroyd, Oledzki, Jordan-Roberts, Newman.
Referee: Tom Grant (Leeds).
Kick-off: Boxing Day. 11.30am.