ENGLAND Academy international Callum McLelland is itching to link up with former Castleford Tigers team-mate Luke Gale in Leeds Rhinos colours.
Talented stand-off McLelland – currently helping Championship Featherstone Rovers in their thrilling pursuit of Super League – was delighted to see the ex-Man of Steel seal a move to Emerald Headingley earlier week.
England scrum-half Gale, 31, signed a three-year deal with the club hoping he will not only return them to challenging for silverware but also take their young half-backs under his wing.
Pontefract-born McLelland is one of those having started out in Castleford’s academy but arriving at Leeds via a short spell in rugby union representing Edinburgh and Scotland Under 20s.
“I’m actually quite close with Luke,” said the player, who made his Rhinos debut against Workington Town earlier this year and only turned 20 last month. “When I was at Cas’ when I first came through he was there in 2017 and I learned so much from him in such a short space of time.
“I’m excited that I could potentially be playing with him in a few months’ time. It’s great for me to be learning off him and competing with him in training.
“It’ll be a great experience and it’ll bring me on leaps and bounds.”
Firstly, though, McLelland is preparing for Saturday’s showdown in Canada as part-timers Featherstone seek to stun Toronto Wolfpack and earn promotion in the Championship Grand Final.
He has played 11 games for them since joining in May, including all their stunning play-off victories away at Leigh Centurions, York City Knights and Toulouse to set up Saturday’s unexpected decider.
“It is massive what’s coming,” said McLelland, whose quality kicking game and partnership with Dane Chisholm has been pivotal.
“We’ve just said at training that it’s going to be the biggest game in most of our players’ careers and one of the most famous in Rovers’ history.
“It’s really exciting for everyone and hopefully we’ll get one over them.”
“It’s a new experience for me. I was only playing academy a few months ago so to jump in at the deep end straight away with Fev has been awesome to play under Ryan.
“He’s brought out a new side of me I didn’t know I had. He’s got me back really enjoying my rugby.”
Asked how the Australian has improved his game, McLelland said: “It’s having that attacking flair back and always getting excited when we get the ball.
“Ryan is a real attack-minded coach and the way we play expresses that.
“We like to chuck the ball about and score some nice tries but we also enjoy doing all the hard work as well; there’s a massive togetherness that Ryan has brought to the Rovers changing room and you can feel that.”