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How Leeds Rhinos could line-up in 2023 after Derrell Olpherts signing

Leeds Rhinos have done some exciting business going into 2023.

They’ve made six signings but how many of them will make their first choice 17?

We’re answering that question today with our early prediction for Leeds’ strongest side next season following the news of Derrell Olpherts signing today.

Fullback: Richie Myler
At one stage there was thought that Leeds would face a three-way dilemma at fullback in 2023 but now that Jack Walker is headed to Bradford and the Rhinos have been unable to tie down Zak Hardaker, Richie Myler is almost guaranteed the fullback spot. Yes, Luke Hooley might have something to say about that, but the quality Myler brings to the Leeds attack will see him nailed on in that role.

Wingers: David Fusitu’a & Ash Handley
Two powerful wingers who fit the Rohan Smith style by getting Leeds on the front foot with big carries. The two also have great finishing ability but will have to be at their best to keep new signings Luis Roberts and Derrell Olpherts off the wings as well as Liam Tindall.

Centres: Harry Newman & Derrell Olpherts
Speaking off Olpherts, he might be set for the number four shirt. A lot depends on Leeds’ recruitment from here on out with the club linked with the likes of Nene MacDonald, but Olpherts’ arrival at Headingley has come with a statement that he can play centre or at fullback so he could be the man Leeds turn to here alongside perhaps Super League’s best centre Harry Newman. The task will be keeping him fit.

Halfbacks: Blake Austin & Aidan Sezer
With little movement in terms of looking to bring spine players in, Leeds will likely stick with former Canberra partnership Blake Austin and Aidan Sezer in 2023 hoping that the two don’t suffer quite so much with injuries.

Props: Mikolaj Oledzki & Zane Tetevano
2022 Dream Team Prop Mikolaj Oledzki is nailed on to start and will hope to continue his development. The question is, who will join him? It’s likely to be Matt Prior or Zane Tetevano and the way the latter finished last season, it could be Tetevano starting prop.

Hooker: Jarrod O’Connor
As the season drew to a close and the play-offs began, Rohan Smith settled on O’Connor for the big games due to his tenacity in defence. Thus, he could become Leeds’ starting nine next year to give Leeds some early stability in games.

Second-rowers: James Bentley & Rhyse Martin
As with other areas of the side, the back-row at Leeds is pretty settled with two hard working and dangerous players who are only going to improve in 2023. The likes of Morgan Gannon and new signing Leon Ruan and James McDonnell will be knocking on the door nonetheless.

Loose-Forward: Cameron Smith
Smith is now cemented as Leeds’ first choice 13 due to his work ethic but the way he moves the ball adding an extra dimension to the Rhinos attack.

Substitutes: Kruise Leeming, Morgan Gannon, Justin Sangare, Matt Prior
Leeds should have a strong bench next year especially following the arrival of powerful French prop Justin Sangare who should provide real impact off the bench. Matt Prior will provide experience and work rate off the interchanges too alongside the brilliant Morgan Gannon. Meanwhile, Kruise Leeming has pace and skill that should really test tired defences.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Ralph Barraclough

    November 24, 2022 at 8:15 pm

    Prior has gone (Leeds paid off his contract by mutual agreement), freeing up a quota slot for – hopefully – another quality centre, perhaps Nene Macdonald from Leigh.

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