McGee’s wisdom persuades Harris to stick with Leeds Carnegie

Ben Harris.
Ben Harris.
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Sought-after Ben Harris says continuing his union education at Leeds Carnegie was his only priority after the young prop snubbed a host of Premiership teams to commit his future to the Headingley club.

Harris yesterday penned a two-year contract extension with Leeds, despite being on the wishlist of a number of top-flight clubs.

And the 24-year-old says the influence of Carnegie forwards coach Tommy McGee was instrumental in his decision.

“As soon as the offer was there I took it,” said Huddersfield-born loosehead Harris, who joined the club 18 months ago from Yorkshire neighbours Rotherham Titans.

“I’m enjoying it here, I’m improving and I want to continue to improve.

“Tommy McGee has been a massive figure. I’ve improved so much under him.

“So the thinking is with two more years under him, what more will I learn?

“It’s not just the scrum work that you take from Tommy, it’s the all-round forwards play as well as backs play as well.

“He’s a student of the game, he knows union inside out.

“Dave Baldwin and James Lowes have been great as well, I’ve learned a lot from them all.”

Harris, whose stock has risen dramatically since his switch to Leeds, harbours ambitions one day to play in the Premiership, but says the time was not right for him to make that move now.

“I was told there was some interest but you’ve got to do what’s right for you at the time,” said Harris, who has played eight times this season and will come off the bench against Jersey tomorrow as head coach Lowes gives him a breather.

“Eventually I’m sure I’ll be ready for a new challenge, but not now. I am happy where I am and it makes sense to stay here.

“If I’d moved up to the Premiership now I might be sat on a bench and I’d soon realise the grass is not always greener. I want to be playing rugby week in, week out, and improving my game, which is what I am doing.”

Part of the decision to stay included the recent opportunity to pit his wits against a Lions front row when former Leeds coach Stuart Lancaster brought his England team down to Kirkstall for a scrummaging session.

“We got some really good feedback from the England team, it was such a fantastic thing to experience,” said Harris.

“I think Mako Vunipola, Tom Youngs and Dan Cole were expecting to roll us over, but we really held our own and moved them back a few times.”

Leeds welcome Jersey tomorrow, mindful of the need to wipe out the memory of defeat to London Scottish, when the strength of the Greene King IPA Championship was underlined.

“Scottish out-enthused us which is unacceptable really,” said Harris. “You cannot for one minute not give 100 per cent – because you will be beaten.”

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