‘Veteran’ Callum McLelland backing Leeds Rhinos’ rookies to rise to challenge

WITH their big guns being rested ahead of Saturday’s Challenge Cup semi-final against Wigan Warriors, Leeds Rhinos’ youngsters have a golden opportunity to make a name for themselves this evening.

By Peter Smith
Tuesday, 29th September 2020, 11:04 pm
Updated Wednesday, 30th September 2020, 1:01 am
All to play for: Leeds Rhinos' Callum McLelland.  Picture Bruce Rollinson
All to play for: Leeds Rhinos' Callum McLelland. Picture Bruce Rollinson

Catalans Dragons visit Headingley for an important Super League fixture between two of the teams battling to secure a place in the top-four play-offs, but Leeds’s side will have an unfamiliar look.

Coach Richard Agar will select from an initial 21-man squad including only two of the 17 players on duty in last Thursday’s win over Hull KR and featuring eight potential debutants.

The only specialist half-back in contention is Scotland international Callum McLelland who, at 21 and with a total of seven senior appearances to his name, is one of the more experienced players in the squad.

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It could be a baptism of fire against a Catalans team who proved last month they can be devastating when they get their game in order and are desperate for a return to winning ways after three defeats, but McLelland has backed Leeds’s young stars to shine.

“We have got a few players who are on the fringe, who everyone has their full trust in,” he said.

“The boys are raring to go.

“Some of them are going to be getting their debut and it’s a special occasion, especially to be doing it in such a bizarre year.

“It is going to be memorable, all the boys have trained really well and we’re all looking forward to it.

“With all the fixtures coming thick and fast now, we have got to start getting used to it.

“All the boys who are ready to step up are going to step up and hopefully they will all put their best foot forward and give a good account of themselves.”

It will take a special effort for Leeds to pick up a win, but McLelland is adamant they are not going into the game simply to make up the numbers.

He said: “A lot of people will write us off, but as long as the 17 players putting a jersey on believe we can win and everyone in the backroom staff believe we can win, there’s no reason why we can’t go out and win.

“That’s the mentality going into the game.

“We are raring to go and a lot of the boys want to put a show on for Rich and show they can handle playing at this level.”

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