The present may be tough but the future looks bright for Leeds Rhinos - Luke Gale

WE ARE doing it tough with injuries at the moment and that’s far from ideal, but I think we might be seeing the birth of some future stars, of Leeds Rhinos and Super League.

Tuesday, 6th April 2021, 6:25 am
Top prospect: Rhinos teenage centre Corey Hall.  Picture Tony Johnson
Top prospect: Rhinos teenage centre Corey Hall. Picture Tony Johnson

Last week’s derby against Castleford Tigers was the first time Corey Hall has started a Super League game and I thought he stood up really well in a difficult situation, against very good opposition.

He is only 18, but he has an old head on young shoulders.

I am sure he’d put his hand up and say he could have done better with one of Cas’ tries, but that happens on debut.

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Doing well: Rhinos captain Luke Gale has been impressed by rookie back Jack Broadbent.

I remember mine, many years ago and I don’t mind admitting there was more than one mistake in that.

Corey is a great kid, a natural centre – he has got the right size and skill set and he has a big future ahead of him.

He will learn a lot from the game the other day; I thought his carries were strong, he was a handful with the ball and he will get better, as will all our young lads.

He was great in pre-season and we’ve had so many injuries, to the likes of Harry Newman and Konrad Hurrell, he has had to step up a bit earlier than expected. If you’d told him at the start of pre-season he’d be playing in round two, he would probably have laughed, but he has been that good in training he has got the opportunity.

Filling in: Leeds Rhinos centre Liam Sutcliffe is again showing his versatility by playing in the halves. Picture Bruce Rollinson

It’s the same with Jack Broadbent, who I thought was outstanding – again – last weekend.

I think Jack prefers centre, but stepping in as probably our fourth-choice full-back, behind Jack Walker, Richie Myler and Ash Handley, I thought he had a great game.

He had some lovely touches, he has had a few games now and, like Corey, I think he is going to improve and improve.

With injuries, he is getting a crack in the side so I think from that respect it has been good for the young lads.

There’s a couple of others on the fringes who warmed up the other day, Sam Walters and Jarrod O’Connor.

They did well in the pre-season game and won’t let anybody down when their chance comes.

When you have injuries you’ve got to blood some of the young lads, that’s how it is and it will stand the club in good stead.

What people have to remember is these lads are still only young, they are inexperienced and with no reserve grade or dual-reg’, they haven’t played much rugby over the past year.

When you kids come in, they will make mistakes. That’s how you learn and they shouldn’t be written off if something goes wrong.

The Cas game was Corey’s first start and his third first team game and he was up against Michael Shenton who was making his 400th career appearance. It is chalk and cheese, you couldn’t get two players further apart in the stages of their careers.

If you’re asking Corey to go out and be as good as his opposite number, you’re asking for a miracle.

What you want him to do is show promise and he definitely did that.

We are already playing with people out of position, such as Liam Sutcliffe at stand-off.

He has made no secret of wanting to play in the centres, but he is doing a job for the team because we’ve got nobody else.

You have to rejig and rethink and that’s what our coach Richard Agar has done over the first few weeks of the season.

I am sure he has had some sleepless nights thinking about it, because it’s early in the year and you want to pick from your best squad. The team that does the best at the end of the year is normally the one that has the best luck with injuries.

Pre-season was far from ideal and that has continued into the campaign, but I know our luck will change, we will get back on the horse and we are a good rugby side.

I think we showed that last week; our middles were great, we showed some good signs and it won’t be long before we start getting some bodies back and start getting a settled team.

We’ll keep working hard and we will be there come the end of the season.

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