Super League chance looms for Leeds Rhinos' ex-Widnes Vikings prospect Sam Walters

Teenage forward Sam Walters hopes to be the next cab off Leeds Rhinos’ rank.

By Peter Smith
Thursday, 20th August 2020, 6:00 am

Coach Richard Agar has confirmed the 19-year-old former England academy second-rower is getting close to a first-team call up.

Liverpool-born Walters joined Rhinos from Widnes Vikings last year and is a member of the full-time squad.

Rhinos face 13 more Betfred Super League games – plus at least one Coral Challenge Cup tie – over the next 12 weeks and, with injuries already taking their toll, Agar is expected to make full use of his squad.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Sam Walters makes a break for Rhinos during a pre-season game at Featherstone. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.

“I think it is a good opportunity for all the young lads this year,” Walters, who wears squad number 27, said.

“Especially with the midweek games coming up, there’s going to be a lot of tired bodies so hopefully some young boys get a few games and a chance to shine.”

Walters’ only senior game so far was on loan for Batley Bulldogs last year and an ankle injury at the start of this season set him back.

“I did my syndesmosis in February against Bradford, the first [reserves] game of the season,” he recalled.

Sam Walters attempts to halt Featherstone's Gareth Gale. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.

“I have not played since then, but I am fully fit now and I feel good.

“I have been getting my running metres back up slowly over lockdown. I’ve done a lot of work on my own so lockdown was sort of a blessing in disguise for me, so I didn’t miss any time out.”

With the lower grades, Betfred Championship and League One all having been abandoned for this year, it is Super League or nothing for fringe players like Walters.

“I have been talking to the coaches about that,” he said.

Sam Walters at training. Picture by Varley Picture Agency.

“For us young boys, we’ve just got to bring that energy to training and try and shine through training, with there being no games.”

Rhinos have been in training for more than a month since the coronavirus lockdown and Walters has been working hard to catch Agar’s eye.

Injuries to James Donaldson and Alex Mellor – plus the continued absence of Stevie Ward and Dom Crosby – have depleted Leeds’ pack strength, though Bodene Thompson was brought in last week from Toronto Wolfpack.

“They are all good competitors,” Walters – who still lives west of the Pennines – said of his fellow second-rowers.

“They all try to push me in the right direction.

“I am in my second year here now and I have probably found my feet now, so hopefully I can start pushing for a place.

“I love it here, it’s a good group of lads and a good mix with the young boys and the senior boys as well.

“We all socialise and we all mix together. In the gym we still have to work in small groups, but on the field we are getting that camaraderie back.

“We are getting the team bonding back. We are quite a tight group, but after a lot of time away you might lose some of those combinations. I think they are coming back into play now.”

A message from the Editor:

Leeds has a fantastic story to tell - and the Yorkshire Evening Post has been rooted firmly at the heart of telling the stories of our city since 1890. We believe in ourselves and hope you believe in us too. We need your support to help ensure we can continue to be at the heart of life in Leeds.

Subscribe to our website and enjoy unlimited access to local news and information online and on our app. With a digital subscription, you can read more than 5 articles, see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content. Click here to subscribe. For more details on our newspaper subscription offers click here.

Thank you

Laura Collins