Robert Lui likes the look of Leeds Rhinos’ half-back options
YOUNGSTER CALLUM McLelland will be Leeds Rhinos’ on-field general within the next few years, his fellow stand-off Robert Lui reckons.
Lui is one of four half-backs with Betfred Super League experience on Rhinos’ books, alongside Luke Gale, Richie Myler and McLelland, the 20-year-old who impressed on dual-registration with Featherstone Rovers last term and for Scotland in their World Cup qualifying campaign.
McLelland made one Betfred Super League appearance for Leeds in 2019 and played twice in the Coral Challenge Cup, but Lui rates him highly and believes he is a player Rhinos can build their long-term plans around – as well as someone who could make a breakthrough next year.
“Cal finished the season well and he’s pushing for a spot,” Lui said.
“We are all pushing for a spot so we’ll give Rich [Agar, Rhinos’ coach] a headache there, but I am sure he’s happy about that.”
Lui predicted: “I can see Cal playing some games next year.
“He will be playing for a long time and, in two or three years’ time, this will be his team.
“He is young, but he is ready to go.”
Rhinos used eight different half-back pairings in 2019 and will be looking for more continuity in the new campaign.
Lui and Gale are likely to be the first-choice combination, but Myler and McLelland were also in from day one of pre-season and Lui insisted he is not taking his place for granted.
“We’ve gone from two halves to four,” the 29-year-old Australian pointed out. “We’ve got Galey coming in and he has something to prove. He was the England half and the year he won the Man of Steel he was the best half-back in the comp’.
“He put kicks in the corner, he led with his defence and he ran the ball too.
“There’s myself, I am just getting myself right mentally and physically and, come round one, I will be ready. We’ve got Richie, he has been the number seven for the last two years and he’s not going to let that go and there’s Cal as well.
“At the end of the day, that’s what we want.
“The only people who are going to make us get better are each other. We all want to help a mate out because, at the end of the day, we all represent Leeds.”
There is a positive vibe coming out of the Leeds Rhinos camp following the first two weeks of pre-season and Lui insisted the early signs are encouraging.
“It has been good,” he said.
“All the boys have come back in good nick and keen to go.
“It’s a good squad and we’ve been working hard, that’s the main thing.
“We’ve been getting a bit of brotherhood with all the boys and I can’t wait to start the season.”
Lui made a positive impression in 10 games for Leeds at the end of the 2019 campaign, after joining them from Salford Red Devils, but feels he will be better with a full pre-season under his belt.
Of last year, he admitted: “It was difficult, but I knew what I had to do and how to get through.
“It’s all about combinations and, once Rhyse [Martin] and Konny [Hurrell] come in, we will be all hands on deck and we can work on getting combinations with our halves and hooker and full-back.
“It’s important to get stuff like that right.
“If we can get those combinations right, I have got a good feeling.
“I am excited; we have got a good, young team – and a lot of good, old heads in there as well.”