ALTHOUGH he is one of Super League’s few ‘marquee’ players, Australian star Trent Merrin admits he got ‘goosebumps’ just walking into Leeds Rhinos’ training ground.
The former Kangaroos loose-forward – one of the competition’s biggest signings – makes his debut in Kallum Watkins’s testimonial against Castleford Tigers on Sunday.
Title-winning Merrin, 29, has seen it all, given he has starred in the NRL for more than a decade, featured in the State of Origin for New South Wales and won a Four Nations final with the famous Green and Golds.
But images of Leeds’ rich Super League history, and the ‘Golden Generation’ including Kevin Sinfield, Rob Burrow, Jamie Jones-Buchanan and Jamie Peacock, took his breath away.
“It is a bit itchy, to be honest when I think of all that’s happened here,” explained Merrin.
“I came in and it gave me goosebumps seeing the boys that have been here in the past.
“You walk through the training facility and see all the photos on the wall; those blokes are still part of the team or around the club. It’s great to have that here and it’s the heritage that the club holds.
“It gives a bit of pride for the younger players and those like myself to come in and do those sorts of men proud as well.”
Leeds hope Merrin will have the same ruggedness and leadership quality of former England captain Peacock, the famous prop who returned to Headingley recently to work in the commercial department.
“I was a young pup when he was running around so I never faced him with Australia,” said the former Penrith Panthers player.
It is a bit itchy, to be honest when I think of all that’s happened here. I came in and it gave me goosebumps seeing the boys that have been here in the past.Leeds Rhinos’ Trent Merrin
“But I definitely used to watch him as he’s a well-known name.
“To have him around the club is exceptional and those sort of players are the ones we get pumped up to have around and feed off.
“I can’t wait to start and pull on the jersey for the first time.”