Leeds Rhinos’ England Knights quartet keen to tackle Papua New Guinea

Liam Sutcliffe.
Liam Sutcliffe.
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LIAM SUTCLIFFE admits it will be a “special moment” when all four Leeds Rhinos tourists appear for England Knights against Papua New Guinea tomorrow.

The versatile back was the club’s sole representative in last week’s opening game against the Kumuls, crossing for a try during the 16-12 victory in Lae.

Mikolaj Oledzki.

Mikolaj Oledzki.

However, the rest of the Headingley contingent has been called into the squad to join him for tomorrow’s second match against PNG, as the Knights look to round off their tour with another success in the capital Port Moresby.

Full-back Jack Walker and front-row Mikolaj Oledzki both start, making their Knights debuts, while winger Ash Handley is primed to make his bow off the bench.

“It’ll be great when it happens,” said Sutcliffe, who retains his place at left centre.

“It’s something all four of us really wanted to do when we first came out here.

We know we were a bit sloppy in the first game but we managed to get the victory so hopefully we can put in a good performance on Saturday and get another before heading home.

Liam Sutcliffe

“Once all four of us are on the pitch it will be a great moment for us all.

“And now we want to kick on and make the series two-nil.

“That was our target at the start of the tour; we wanted to come away with both wins against PNG.

“We know we were a bit sloppy in the first game but we managed to get the victory so hopefully we can clean some stuff up and put in a good performance on Saturday and get another before heading home.”

Jack Walker.

Jack Walker.

Turning 24 later this month, Sutcliffe is the elder statesman of the Rhinos quartet with Walker the youngest at just 19 while Oledski is 20 and Handley 22.

It has been an invaluable learning experience for them and all the Knights squad playing in the tropical heat and humidity of a country where rugby league is almost like a religion.

“It has been really good and one of those things that could be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” admitted Sutcliffe, who made his England debut against France before flying out with the Knights for their training camp in Brisbane and then on to PNG.

“Just to see this part of the world and how the people here live has been brilliant.

Ash Handley.

Ash Handley.

“The atmosphere last Saturday was incredible and playing in that game was an unbelievable experience. Then seeing all the locals, sat up in the hills and up in the trees trying to watch, was a bit of a mad sight.

“Just being with the kind of lads we have has been another bonus for the camp, too; everyone’s really clicked and gelled really well so we have been real close on tour.”

However, despite all of that, Sutcliffe realises the proud Kumuls will be desperate to level the series tomorrow.

He said: “It was very physical in the first Test and I’m sure this week will be no different.

“They’ll be challenging again. We’re looking forward to it, though.

“It’s actually a world-class stadium here.

“We’ve had a look around the last few days and the facilities are quality.”

Sutcliffe added: “Personally, it was good to score last week.

“I didn’t really celebrate too much as it was still early in the game so I didn’t see much point.

“But it was good to get over the line and now I’m looking forward to having an impact in the second match.”