When the Leeds Rhinos announced the signing of Matt Parcell on a three-year contract ahead of the 2017 season, there were certainly eyebrows raised to whether a young Australian, who had struggled to make a regular impact in the NRL with the Manly Sea Eagles, had enough about him to solve the Rhinos’ ongoing problems at hooker.
Following Paul Aiton’s departure at the end of Leeds’ treble winning season in 2015, Brian McDermott has struggled to find any consistency at dummy-half, with Beau Falloon failing to impress during the start of the 2016 season, and then James Segeyaro turning his back on the Rhinos at the conclusion of last season.
However, Parcell has solved Leeds’ problems, helping McDermott’s side transform themselves into title contenders once again, following last season’s surprise relegation battle. The Rhinos have qualified for the Super 8s and are looking to cement their place in the top-four by the end of September, with the hope they can give themselves a chance of reaching Old Trafford and an opportunity to win their eighth Super League title since 2004.
From strength to strength ?@LeedsRhinos back at the top of their game in 2017 and on the hunt for an 8th Super League title ? pic.twitter.com/DZy6WKkWJB
— Betfred Super League (@SuperLeague) August 10, 2017
Castleford Tigers, 2017’s runaway leaders, are favourites for success at Old Trafford later this year, with the Rhinos outsiders at 4/1 to win the English game’s biggest prize, but with these offers on Oddschecker punters can take the edge off with a range of free bets and offers.
The Rhinos will be confident they can cause an upset later in 2017, particularly if Parcell can continue his excellent form during the Super League run-in. So far this season the 24-year-old has scored 13 tries and added 11 try assists, whilst also showing his worth in defence, making a mammoth 879 tackles, which is more than any of his teammates.
WHAT AN OFFLOAD ?
How did @Tom_Briscoe get this away to send Matt Parcell away to score for @leedsrhinos last night?! pic.twitter.com/WzBzoECp2W
— Betfred Super League (@SuperLeague) August 5, 2017
However, one thing the Rhinos will be cautious of is Parcell’s interest to one day return to Australia, which he has made public knowledge quite recently. The hooker admitted he was still enjoying his spell in England, but his comments will have worried the Rhinos, who were forced into selling Segeyaro reluctantly earlier this year, after he demanded a move back to Australia.
Playing and succeeding in the NRL is the aim for most Australians, and most Rugby League players in general, with some of English rugby’s finest talent currently testing themselves in Australia. With that in mind, it is hard to begrudge Parcell if that opportunity comes his way in the near future.
There will always be the risk that Parcell could force a move to Australia, but the Rhinos must have faith in the player, that he will honour his contract to the Super League outfit and remain at Headingley for at least another two seasons – where he has the potential to become a Leeds legend.
Parcell has helped transform Leeds this season, and there is no doubt that Manly will be kicking themselves that they let such a talented player leave. However, if Leeds are to have any success in the near future, they must fight to keep Parcell at Headingley and convince him that England is the best place for his development.