There are huge expectations around Leeds Rhinos going into 2024 but their journey to success begins now.
The Rhinos, alongside Hull FC, were the first club back in pre-season at the beginning of November and fortunately they have been able to bring in some of their biggest and best players in for pre-season from day one including the likes of Cameron Smith, Mikolaj Oledzki and James Bentley.
This week Brodie Croft returned from Australia to begin his journey at Leeds Rhinos after the Rhinos paid Salford a club record fee for the Red Devils to bring in the stand-off as well as Andy Ackers.
The Rhinos also have former Yorkshire Carnegie, Harlequins and Bath rugby union forward Lewis Boyce on trial at the club.
This is as they wait for the likes of Harry Newman and Rhyse Martin to return after their breaks following appearances on the international stage.
This means they will be unlikely to feature in Leeds’ first pre-season friendly which is the traditional festive challenge against Wakefield Trinity on Boxing Day.
However, Serious About Rugby League understands that Leeds’ international players will have further opportunities to prepare for the new season.
We can reveal that Leeds are planning on having three more friendlies beyond the Boxing Day game. These will conclude with the traditional clash against Hunslet which will feature exclusively reserves and academy players from Leeds’ perspective.
This leaves two more friendlies in between which will be Rohan Smith’s opportunity to prepare his side for the new Super League season.
Traditionally, Leeds take on Bradford Bulls in pre-season and if they were to do so again in 2024 it would mean only on game against Super League opposition.
Last year they played three Super League teams started with Wakefield on Boxing Day before away trips to Hull KR and Leigh Leopards which they both lost which was perhaps the beginning of a lukewarm start to the season as they were battered by Warrington Wolves in Round One.
It remains to be seen who these two friendlies will be against and if the Rhinos continue their yearly games against Bradford.