Leeds Rhinos new boy James Bentley delighted to be back in business

NEW SIGNING James Bentley has confirmed he is completely over this year’s injury setbacks and “felt great” during Leeds Rhinos’ pre-season win over Wakefield Trinity.

By Peter Smith
Thursday, 30th December 2021, 6:00 am
Updated Thursday, 30th December 2021, 10:49 am

The second-rower, who has joined Rhinos from St Helens on a two-year deal, suffered a broken leg in April and then a season-ending back injury at September’s Magic Weekend.

The Boxing Day game was his first hit-out since then and Bentley, 24, reported: “I felt great, I am back to my normal self now, which is really good.”

The forward made a positive impression with his high workrate and strong defence, but was rested late in the game because of what coach Richard Agar described as “ a bit of soreness in an Achilles”.

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Leeds Rhinos' James Bentley is tackled by the Wakefield Trinity defence during the Festive Challenge on Boxing Day. Picture: Steve Riding.

But Bentley stressed: “There’s nothing of concern there, it was just looking after it, which is good.”

A lifelong Rhinos fan, Sunday’s 34-6 win was Bentley’s first time at Headingley as a home player.

“It was great,” the former Bradford Bulls man reflected.

“I loved it, getting out there, playing in that atmosphere, I really enjoyed it.

James Bentley in training at Leeds Rhinos. Picture: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com

“I had not played since Magic Weekend so it was good to get out there and it’s good for all the other lads as well, playing against a different team.

“I thought our defence was really good and strong; they scored that try – a bit of a flukey one that came off a poor intercept – but I thought we stood up really well.”

Of how pre-season has gone so far, Bentley added: “It has been really good, I am all settled in now.

“I know all the lads, it’s a good group and I am really enjoying it.

Leeds Rhinos head coach Richard Agar. Picture: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com.

“We are working hard, it’s a new team and I’m still learning all the new systems and that kind of thing and am getting myself back to full fitness, but I am all good now.”

Rhinos’ Betfred Super League opener at home to Warrington Wolves is still more than six weeks away, but Bentley reckons the performance against Trinity suggests they are heading in the right direction.

Leeds led only 10-6 at half-time, but scored four unanswered tries in the final 40 minutes and Bentley said: “You can see the talent and skill we have got in the team.

“We have four new players, including two half-backs, so they have to get used to playing together, but we showed good signs.

“There were areas where we probably need to work on, we need to be a bit more patient and play the long game rather than trying to score all the time, especially in wet conditions.

“But to say we’ve only had four or five weeks together, it is looking really good and positive.”

Bentley is also impressed with the depth of Rhinos’ squad.

“We have got a lot of good young lads coming through, which can only be good.” he said.

“It means there’s competition in the team, that makes everyone play better so it’s what you want.

“You saw it [on Boxing Day], when all those young lads came on towards the end they held their own and kept the standards in the team.”