Reserves competition has a future but changes are needed says Leeds Rhinos' Chev Walker

Leeds Rhinos' reserves coach Chev Walker believes the second string competition has a healthy future, if all clubs buy in.

By Peter Smith
Saturday, 11th June 2022, 12:15 pm
Updated Saturday, 11th June 2022, 12:17 pm

Rhinos' reserves lost 28-22 to Salford Red Devils at Stanningley on Friday, after leading 16-4 at half-time.

David Gibbons, on loan from Hunslet, scored two tries and two conversions in the opening period. Will Gatus crossed in the second half and Gibbons added another goal.

Rhinos have some specific reserve grade players, but are also using under-18s and loanees from clubs including Feathersone Rovers and Hunslet to make up the numbers this season.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Muizz Mustapha has played for Rhinos' reserves and first team this year and on dual-registration with Bradford Bulls. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.

Walker admitted that makes it difficult to prepare, but feels the game time for young players who are not ready to play at first team level is valuable.

“It is a challenge as a coach because you don’t know what you’re getting and you’ve no time to prep’,” he said.

“But it gets you thinking; from a coaching point of view it’s ‘how can I get the most out of this and what can I get them doing that’s not too difficult to get across’?

Read More

Read More
Famous name back on a Leeds Rhinos teamsheet: Featherstone Rovers and Hunslet pl...

“As a whole, it just needs time for the competition to develop and for clubs to use it so it becomes a really strong competition, rather than all players going out of dual-reg’ and you are struggling to make reserves teams up.

“It should be, if they are cracking pots in that but they are not quite at Super League level, then they go out on loan - rather than going out on loan and maybe playing the odd game for the reserves.”

Walker came through at Leeds as one of an outstanding group of young players in the late 1990s.

“We never went on loan,” he recalled.

“We all stuck around and played for our club and played reserves.

“We were all very much part of the club and you played to the club system.

“Some of our lads have played in three or four different systems in the last four months. It is tough for them.

“If all clubs used their fringe players and really good under-18s in the reserves and made it a strong competition, then they might go on loan for a month before they get ready to play Super League, that would be the best way forward.”