Leeds Rhinos’ Richie Myler proving old mate Brett Hodgson of Hull FC wrong in full-back role

WHEN Hull FC head coach Brett Hodgson first linked up with Leeds Rhinos’ Richie Myler at Warrington Wolves they were both at very different stages of their career development.

Australian full-back Hodgson was just a few months shy of his 33rd birthday when he joined the Cheshire club ahead of the 2011 campaign.

He had enjoyed a brilliant two years with Huddersfield Giants which involved him being crowned 2009 Man of Steel.

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Scrum-half Myler, on the other hand, had become the most expensive teenage player in rugby league history when, still just 19, he joined Warrington from Salford Red Devils in 2010.

He had already played for England, though, so it was obvious there was no hype surrounding him.

Fast forward a decade and Hodgson, in his first head coaching role, is now plotting against a Leeds side that welcomes Myler back from a two-game ban for Sunday night’s Super League game at Emerald Headingley.

Rarely could Hodgson have imagined his former team-mate would now be a full-back himself.

He switched to the role with notable success last season, winning the Lance Todd Trophy as man of the match in Leeds’ Challenge Cup final success over Salford just as Hodgson did in 2012 when the duo, ironically, helped defeat Rhinos at Wembley.

Balancing act: Leeds Rhinos coach Richard Agar believes the return of Richie Myler – a former team-mate of Hull boss Brett Hodgson – will bring more balance to his side. (Picture: Tony Johnson)

“We’ve sort of lost contact the last few years obviously but he was always a good player,” recalled Hodgson.

“He can create opportunities and is a good runner of the ball.

“We’re going to have to make sure we’re accounting for him.

“Back then [at Warrington], I didn’t think he’d be a full-back as I’d never seen him play there.

Young Richie Myler, centre, in his Warrington Wolves days back in 2010 (Picture: Lynne Cameron/PA Wire)

“But I think he’s handled it very well. I actually think his best position is full-back because it takes away from him having to organise.

“Even though he’s pretty good at that as well, his running game is what sets him apart.

“He was always a good runner of the ball even when he was playing in the halves. It doesn’t surprise me that he’s kicked on and had a decent career.”

Leeds, who have been stymied by injuries to key personnel, picked up only their second win of the season against Wakefield Trinity last Friday.

Hull FC head coach Brett Hodgson. (Picture: SWPix.com)

Hull, on the other hand, suffered only a second defeat of the campaign as they fell 27-10 against Catalans Dragons on Monday, playing in front of their own fans for the first time in 14 months.

Hodgson described Leeds’ form as “indifferent” owing to those injuries but he added: “They have plenty of players coming back now.

“[Scrum-half] Luke Gale came back at the weekend and was solid for them. Richie Myler comes back into the team this week as will Zane Tetevano.

“They’re strengthening now so we’re expecting a very tough and physical encounter. They have some good kids there as well who are playing well without necessarily getting the results yet.

“Also, Gale is the type of player that gives everyone else a confidence boost knowing that they are playing alongside him.

“The kicking game is key for them. I think Myler coming back into the team will balance their squad a little bit more which will ask more questions of us as well.

“It was just a war of attrition against Wakefield at the weekend and Leeds will get some confidence after winning that game.

“We need to make sure that we’re performing well to give ourselves a chance of beating them.”

Hodgson predicts Myler will be back in the halves on Sunday to offer Gale “more support” and given youngster Jack Broadbent is also faring well at full-back.

However, less than an hour later yesterday in his own press conference - and unprompted - Leeds coach Richard Agar revealed Myler would play at No 1.

Asked what the 30-year-old would bring after his suspension for dissent, Agar said: “Our tryline defensive organisation will be better.

“He’ll help our half-backs. That’s no detriment against Jack Broadbent either because he’s a centre or winger and filled in that full-back role magnificently.

“But we got down to about the fifth choice before we asked him and we threw him in at the deep end.

“I’d anticipate our attack – with an extra pair of hands – and defence having a bit more balance with Richie in there.”

The only time Gale and Myler have been on the field together this season was their opening-day win against Wakefield.

Agar feels uniting them once more will only reap dividends.

“Richie brings understanding and timing with all of our plays,” he said.

“In those first 15 minutes in Round One we created tries and endless opportunities with those guys in sync’. He’ll make us more clinical when the times come.”

When told what Hodgson had already said, an amused Agar said: “He’ll definitely be full-back. How’s my poker face going...!”

There is one thing both coaches can agree on – Myler undoubtedly makes Leeds stronger.

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