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How Mikolaj Oledzki went from a biscuit hiding swimmer to a Leeds Rhinos star and England international

Mikolaj Oledzki is one of the best players in Super League being included in the Super League Dream Team for 2022 and Shaun Wane’s England squad for the World Cup.

He has now played in his first Grand Final and looked very settled in the Theatre of Dreams. He has already won a Challenge Cup doing so in 2020 and is set to go from strength to strength at Leeds.

But his journey to rugby league success is unlike any other. Born in Poland, Oledzki didn’t move to England until he was eight years old when he could hardly speak a word of English.

Speaking to Channel 4 in their brilliant coverage of the Grand Final in Grand Final uncovered, he opened up in the move and how he took up swimming shortly after the move: “Before my ninth birthday I moved over to England and I didn’t know much English. The transition was pretty tough as a kid, the language barrier was pretty tough two year period.

“My mum always pushed me into sport. I joined a swimming club that’s where I made my first friends. It’s a beautiful thing is sport.

“I quickly realised it wasn’t my cup of tea.”

He also joked about how he would hide packets of biscuits from his mum who banned chocolate in a move that helped give Oledzki the drive we see from him week in, week out: “I started putting a bit of weight on when I was at high school, I’d take a couple of biscuits when mum was at work, eat them and then hide the packet and every time when she found a packet of biscuits she’d absolutely blow my legs off.

“Even though she sprayed me for eating biscuits, banned chocolate, she gave me that drive, that hunger for success that I carry with me.”

He then spoke about how he first got into rugby league: “My dad took me down to Fearnville field for a kick about and we see East Leeds training there. I didn’t know what rugby was, it looked a bit like American football and I thought that’s pretty cool. American Football with no pads.

“When I got involved in rugby, I had a very close group of friends because it’s not like football, it’s full of genuine working class people who just want to watch rugby.”

Now Oledzki’s journey is set to reach another peak as he prepares for a first World Cup.

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