Rhinos duo’s call for England thoroughly deserved - Luke Gale’s View From The Pitch
WHEN HE realises how good he is, Mikolaj Oledzki will be an international prop for sure.
I was really pleased for Mik and Kruise Leeming when they were called into the England training squad yesterday.
They were both great in the game last weekend, but I thought Mik was unreal.
He was one of the best props on the pitch and there were some good ones out there, the likes of Alex Walmsley.
If you can stand out in that company, you have something about you and in my opinion, Mik can not only go on to play for England, but also become a Leeds number eight great.
I believe he is that good.
I think it’s probably just a mental battle with him – he needs to have the confidence to realise what he is capable of, because he has got everything.
He is a prop with the speed of a back and he is athletically very good.
I have seen it in glimpses, such as the Cup semi-final against Wigan last year, when he was immense.
When we see that every week, we will have some player on our hands.
Having Matt Prior and Zane Tetevano at the club has definitely helped him and I predict he will have a huge season this year.
As for Kruise, he was great last weekend as well – he had more responsibility with us not having a half in the team and really stepped up – and they both warrant the call-up.
They’ve both played for England Knights and the experience of training with the full squad and knowing they are in Shaun Wane’s thoughts will do them a world of good.
I would have loved to be there, it was the first time Shaun has been able to meet players face to face since becoming coach, but – because of my thumb injury – I had to stay away.
I also had to watch the Saints game on TV as injured players weren’t allowed to travel.
What an effort that was, I thought the boys were awesome and they really rattled Saints.
It wasn’t a thriller by any stretch, but for us to win we had to play that game-plan and make it a scrappy game.
We had three or four backs on the field and the rest were middles so it was a massive effort to get so close to Saints and I think if we’d had even one half-back out there, we might have nicked it.
It is disappointing to be out of the Challenge Cup at such an early stage after winning the competition last year and I was gutted I couldn’t be out there to defend it, but it’s a long campaign and I am going to use the next few weeks as the pre-season I didn’t have.
I saw a specialist on Monday and, fortunately, my thumb doesn’t need an operation, but it’ll be in a splint for four weeks and I can start training again in a week or so.
I’ll use the time to get the strength back in my pec’ – which I tore at the start of pre-season – and get properly fit and I’ll be ready to go once I get the all-clear.
We are doing it tough at the minute, but I think one thing’s for certain, once we get our full-strength team available, we will be a hell of a side.
It’s frustrating right now, but in six weeks’ time when everyone’s back, which is around the time fans will be allowed into matches, I think you’ll see a different team, so that’s exciting.
Monday was a big day for White Rose Bloodstock as our filly Brazen Akoya had her first race, up at Redcar.
She ended up seventh out of 11, but a furlong out I thought she was going to win. She showed electric pace, absolutely bolted out of the stalls and then just got snipered; she actually walked over the line.
It was a five-furlong race and a furlong down, I thought we were going to Royal Ascot! It wasn’t to be, but hopefully the next day will be her day. She has definitely got pace, she just got a bit tired late on, so we hope we get some stamina into her.
In fact, she was like me, because I’ve only got 40 metres in me, then I have to look for my full-back!
Bez, from Happy Mondays had a horse in the same race and he was there. His horse wouldn’t go in the stalls and had to be withdrawn – so at least our Monday wasn’t as unhappy as his!
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