New Leeds Rhinos recruit Alex Mellor welcomes close scrutiny

NEW recruit Alex Mellor knows he will come under “scrutiny” at Leeds Rhinos – and he doesn’t want it any other way.

The talented back-row is looking forward to the new campaign following his off-season move from rivals Huddersfield Giants.

Mellor is one of only four signings so far for Richard Agar’s side and he knows there will be pressure on moving to one of Super League’s ‘big clubs’.

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However, on the back of fighting relegation in three of the last four seasons, he realises just how important it is for eight-times champions Leeds to show their true colours again.

Leeds Rhinos' off-season signing, Alex Mellor. PIC: Bruce Rollinson/JPIMedia

“It is huge,” said Mellor, when asked how crucial it is that Rhinos return to the top end of the table in 2020.

“You can see it around the city and with the support – it’s such a big fan base – everyone sorts of expects it.

“And there is a lot of pressure that comes with that to perform.

“I think that adds to the pressure of being a player here as well; everyone sort of expects you to be at the top level and if you’re not at the top level you get scrutinised.

Leeds Rhinos forward, Stevie Ward. PIC: Bruce Rollinson/JPIMedia

“I think that’s how it should be. If it’s going well, it’s going well and if it’s going bad you’re getting scrutinised but that, all in all, pushes you to play well every week and perform better.”

That said, there is no reason Mellor should not rise to the occasion in blue and amber.

He was highly thought of at Huddersfield and became a regular performer for Simon Woolford’s side having initially come through the ranks at Bradford Bulls.

Indeed, Giants were disappointed to lose the 25-year-old’s services given there is still clearly more to come from his game as he develops further.

Leeds Rhinos and Papua New Guinea forward, Rhyse Martin. PIC: SpiderTekPNG/Duco/SWpix.com

Leeds should see the benefits of that given they tied him down to a three-year deal and Mellor said: “Last season was probably my best season.

“I think I had a good half-season at the back end of 2018 and then a pretty good season this year so I felt it was something I could do – make a move.

“I had a chance to back myself, which I did, and, all in all, it’s paid off as it’s got me here.

“It’s good. I settled in straight away and am really enjoying it here.

Rhinos' capture, Kruise Leeming . PIC: Tony Johnson/JPIMedia

“It’s something different – and something I needed to do.”

Mellor has been awarded the No 11 shirt at Rhinos with Papua New Guinea captain Rhys Martin at No 12.

With Stevie Ward, James Donaldson. Liam Sutcliffe and Cameron Smith all offering other back-row options, is he confident of nailing down a spot?

“Yes, you have to back yourself,” said the Halifax-born player.

“I’m always confident in myself. That always stands me in good stead.

“I think there’s some massive competition here – there’s some great players – but I’ll back myself as if I don’t no one else will!”

Meanwhile, Mellor is delighted to see former team-mate Kruise Leeming follow him from Huddersfield to Leeds.

The England Knights hooker joined up a fortnight ago after a deal was secured to bring him to Headingley.

Mellor said: “It’s great to have Kruise with us.

“Obviously he’s one of my best mates but, as a player, he’s probably one of the best players I’ve ever played with to be honest. He’ll add a different dimension and different drive to training; he brings a very positive attitude and brings the place up so he’s a great addition.

“He’s a big loss to Huddersfield. He has a lot of drive, a lot of will to keep pushing himself and not be settled and take risks.

“I think, for both of us, that’s what we sort of went with and it’s paid off in the end.”

Likewise, it would be no surprise if their addition will pay off for Leeds Rhinos, too.

n WATCH: Interview our with Leeds Rhinos prop-forward Ava Seumanufagai at www.yorkshireeveningpost.co.uk