Positive vibe welcomes Mikolaj Oledzki back to Leeds Rhinos

THERE IS a “different feel” about Leeds Rhinos’ pre-season training this year, prop Mikolaj Oledzki says.

By Peter Smith
Saturday, 16th November 2019, 6:00 am
Updated Saturday, 16th November 2019, 2:03 pm
Leeds' Mikolaj Oledzki is tackled by London's Eddie Battye and Matthew Gee. Picture: Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com
Leeds' Mikolaj Oledzki is tackled by London's Eddie Battye and Matthew Gee. Picture: Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com

Oledzki was given an extra week’s break, having played for England Knights against Jamaica at Emerald Headingley a month ago and returned to work five days ago.

Most of his clubmates were already into the swing of things when Oledzki got back and he instantly noticed a change.

“This year has a different feeling to it,” Oledzki said.

Nathaniel Peteru's exit opens up a potential opportunity for Mikolaj Oledzki. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe

“There has been a lot of changes, we finished last season better than we started, but we weren’t happy with where we were.

“We, as a team, want to put things right and to be back to where we deserve to be and where we want to be.

“When you get to the training ground, it feels different - everyone’s positive, no one’s walking around in a sulk because we have to do running outside, or anything like that.

“Everyone’s wanting to put everything into it and start the season well and get back up there competing for the big Grand Final.”

Next year will be Oledzki’s fourth in the senior squad.

He made 22 appearances last year - taking his tally for Rhinos to 47 - but dropped out of the picture in the second half of the campaign after being a regular early on.

“I think when it got to halfway through the year the things I need to work on and the things I wasn’t doing right kind of caught up with me,” he reflected.

“I think the time came when I had to improve on my own game to get back in the team.

“We had that conversation and we agreed on certain things I had to improve on to get back in the team.

“I understood that, it was just time for me to tell myself ‘you need to improve on these things if you want to be playing regularly’.

“This pre-season is all about getting the little things right for myself and getting my game to a point where I can benefit the team and bring an impact.”

With props Nathaniel Peteru and Brad Singleton having moved on, Oledzki has a chance to re-establish himself in the first-choice 17.

He said: “That’s how I see it, as a big opportunity.

“I don’t think I feel as much pressure as I maybe did last year.

“I got told I might be in the team and as a youngster you think ‘I need to do something extra, I need to be better and do things I wouldn’t do normally to stand out more’.

“But I think this time I want to do the little things right that I do well, get the game I am good at, do it well and be in the team by doing my things right, nothing spectacular.”

Rhinos have confirmed arrangements for the Betfred Super League round one double-header at Emerald Headingley on Sunday, February 2.

Toronto Wolfpack will play Castleford Tigers (2.30pm) before Rhinos face Hull(4.45pm).

Toronto - who could give a debut to cross-code signing Sonny Bill Williams, as well as Singleton - have switched their ‘home’ fixture to Leeds because of the winter weather conditions in Canada.

One ticket will cover both matches.

Castleford and Hull will each receive an allocation of tickets for the Western Terrace and in block A of the North Stand.

Tickets will go on sale on Thursday, December 5.

As the ‘home’ team, Wolfpack will be allocated tickets in the South Stand, which will be on sale through Rhinos.