Rhinos recruits and fringe players handed festive chance to impress

IT will be a case of opportunity knocks for several Leeds Rhinos players in today’s festive encounter with Wakefield Trinity Wildcats at Headingley Carnegie.

Rhinos will field a strong squad which includes four members of this year’s Grand Final-winning team – but boss Brian McDermott insists the game is mainly a chance for fringe players and new faces to prove what they can do.

The Christmas fixture will be a first chance for spectators to see Rhinos’ Australian recruits Mitch Achurch and Joel Moon.

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It will also be Australian triallist Joe Vickery’s first opportunity to prove he is worth a contract and youngsters including Jimmy Watson, Jordan Baldwinson, Liam Sutcliffe and Alex Foster are bidding for a permanent call-up to the senior set-up after impressing in the lower grades last year.

“After the new year the international lads will start figuring more prominently in pre-season,” said McDermott.

“The young fellas and some of the fringe players have more of a chance now of staking a claim.

“For the players, some of them will be thinking if they perform really well they have a fair chance of keeping the shirt for the other friendlies at the back end of January. There’s pressure on people like Brad Singleton and Joe Vickery in particular.”

Vickery – a utility-back – has today’s game and the January trial matches against Bradford Bulls and Hunslet Hawks to convince McDermott he has what it takes for Super League.

Kyle Trout can prove he has a Super League future with Wakefield if he impresses today.

Aussie import Justin Poore will make his first Wildcats appearance at prop, alongside 21-year-old Trout – who is a specialist back-rower.

“Kyle is a player we think can fill a number of slots, in the back-row, loose-forward or sometimes up front,” said Wildcats’ coach Richard Agar.

“The development in him over the last 12 months has been very good. The game on Boxing Day is a great chance to see how far he has come.”