Clarkson prepared for ‘weird’ encounter at Headingley

IT must always be a strange situation for an on-loan player when he faces his parent club, but more so for Leeds Rhinos’ Chris Clarkson.

Leeds Rhinos' Chris Clarkson, who will face his parent club with Widnes on Friday night

The second-row, who has been sent out for the entire campaign to Widnes Vikings, also lives with two of his Leeds colleagues, Stevie Ward and Mitch Achurch.

Furthermore, it is the form and potential of that pair – who each play in the same position as Clarkson – that probably prompted Rhinos coach Brian McDermott to have enough confidence to be able to loan the forward to their Super League rivals.

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Clarkson, who debuted for Widnes in their 22-22 opening night draw with Wigan Warriors eight days ago, makes a swift return to Headingley this evening with his new colleagues.

“It will be weird,” he admitted, with the player set to complete his Leeds contract in 2016.

“But I am looking forward to playing against some of my best mates. And I’ve not really got anything to show the (Leeds) coaching staff. They know what kind of rugby I can play; this is just a chance to play it more often. I want to play every week, that’s why I’ve come here.

“I played 80 minutes last week and I want to do that every game and to improve myself as a player.

“It is just about being more consistent, getting a bit more experience and more game time, rather than playing 20 or 30 minutes off the bench.”

Clarkson, 24, managed just 17 appearances last year and is relishing the opportunity to now get an extended run under Denis Betts, a former Great Britain second-row.

“It’s good and I’m really enjoying it,” added the player who, famously, was still working as a bricklayer before emerging through the Rhinos Academy ranks in 2010 and quickly featuring at Wembley.

“Training is a bit different, but all good. In the Wigan game last week we were down to 12 men, but everyone fought for each other and that’s pretty much the team ethic we’ve got.

“Everyone puts the effort in and it paid off for us.”

A product of East Leeds amateur club, Clarkson admits he does not think he will celebrate if he has the temerity to score at Headingley tonight.

“I don’t think I would but it’s unlikely anyway – I’m not known as a try-scorer,” he added, having crossed just 11 times in five years.

His parent club, meanwhile, are looking to build on a hard-earned 40-30 opening win at Hull KR. They struggled dealing with Rovers’ attacking kicks in that game, something Widnes may target too.

McDermott said; “It is something we have got to look at, but it’s easily fixed up.

“You can get on top of that relatively easily.

“It was the first game of the year and we will be better by round five, defensively as well. There was a bit of sleepiness and lethargy, especially near our try-line, early in the game.

“That won’t be happening in a few rounds’ time.

“We are disappointed it happened, but not overly concerned either.”