Rising Leeds Rhinos star Sam Walters can take Super League by storm says training partner Alex Mellor
Alex Mellor admits training partner Sam Walters’ form in pre-season is making him nervous for his place in Leeds Rhinos’ second-row.
Mellor had a strong first season for Rhinos making 13 appearances last year, but said youngsters like Walters are keeping him and other senior players on their toes.
Walters, 20, joined Leeds from Widnes Vikings early in 2019 and was academy player of the year at the end of that season.
He made his first team debut at home to Catalans Dragons last September and finished 2020 with four first team appearances to his name, scoring his first try away to Warrington Wolves.
Mellor said: “Sam is in the same position as me, I am quite close to Sam, we train together and share tips and he is coming on really well.
“He is making me a little bit nervous, actually - how well he is coming on.
“I will have to tell him to slow down a bit.”
Of what Walters offers to the side, Mellor noted: “He is a big thing.
“He is probably 110kgs, 6ft 7, if you get that moving in the right direction you know he’ll be hard to handle.
“He is maturing into a really good player.”
Mellor reckons Walters will have no trouble coping in Betfred Super League when required.
“I think with Sam it’s a case of give him a couple of games and see what he can do,” he added.
“He is pretty raw, he has got a lot of aggression - which you can’t teach - so I am excited to watch Sam play this year.”
Walters is among a posse of fringe players who have impressed teammates and coaching staff in training, along with the likes of Morgan Gannon, Levi Edwards, Jack Broadbent and Corey Hall.
“It is exciting, the position we have got ourselves into this year,” Mellor said.
“Everything is coming together really well, we are looking fit and strong.
“We have had a lot of injuries in pre-season, but the young lads who have come in and found their place have done so well.
“That keeps everyone on their toes for positions and spurs the whole team on to be better, knowing if we have a number of players out these young players are ready to step in and rock and roll.”
Of his own preparations, Mellor said: “It has gone good.
“It has been a little bit disjointed, I had two weeks off with Covid, which hindered me a bit - I was in for two weeks, off for two weeks and then back.
“But since then I have really enjoyed it and managed to have a good dig at it and it has gone pretty well.”
Rhinos will visit Mellor’s former club, Huddersfield Giants, on Sunday for their only warm-up game ahead of the Super League round one derby against Wakefield Trinity at Emerald Headingley 13 days later.
But Mellor, who moved to Leeds at the end of 2019, will again be denied the chance to play on his old turf.
Rhinos’ fixture at John Smith’s Stadium in February last year was postponed because of Storm Ciara.
The rearranged game was played at Emerald Headingley and St Helens staged the sides’ other meeting in 2020.
Mellor is suspended on Sunday, completing a two-match ban for an incident against Wakefield last October.
He missed the final game of 2020 and admitted: “It is better missing Sunday than a Super League game, definitely. I am quite lucky, really.”
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