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“I’m in the best shape of my career” – Leeds Rhinos star on impact of sobriety journey

James Bentley has a reputation as being one of Super League’s most fierce competitors and the Leeds Rhinos second-rower claims he’s set to finally meet his potential for the Headingley club this year.

Irish international Bentley joined the Rhinos ahead of the 2022 season after four seasons with St Helens but he has claimed that he’s now met the levels he expects of himself in Blue and Amber.

Speaking on the Leeds Rhinos YouTube channel, he explained: “I feel like I’ve not really met my potential while I’ve been here at Leeds. I want to get back into that form when I’m at my best and hopefully better. I can’t wait to get back out there.”

One of the reasons why he feels he can be at his best this year is that he’s taken the decision to go sober, a personal choice but one that looks set to positively impact his professional life too.

He continued: “I’m doing it for myself first, but obviously all the other benefits that are coming for it as well and anyone that’s out there that’s thinking about doing it, I’d recommend that, I can’t say how good I feel from it.”

Bentley had been involved in a drunken altercation with England international Victor Radley at the England team hotel during the 2021 World Cup, for which no further action was taken.

The 26-year-old has now taken the major steps on a sobriety journey documenting much of it on his Instagram account.

Leeds Rhinos forward reveals sobriety journey details

Leeds Rhinos forward James Bentley.

James Bentley has explained that his sobriety journey has left him in the best shape of his career – Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com

Discussing the end of pre-season and the fact that Leeds Rhinos start their Super League campaign on Friday night, Bentley confirmed his state of fitness as well as confirming how going sober had aided him.

“The pre-season has come to the end last week and now we’re all excited to get playing and put in that hard work,” Bentley explained to the Rhinos YouTube channel.

“I think it’s a really good culture at the minute among all the boys. Just loving coming in every day and ripping it.

“I’m fully fit now. It’s been a bit of a frustrating pre-season with a little niggles and whatnot, but we’ve got there in the end and ready to go now on Round 1.”

Specifically on his sobriety, he added: “I think it’s been massive for me this pre-season. It’s helped me get in probably the best shape of my career and life and finally get some stability back.

“I’m really looking forward to this year and what I’ll do off the back of that and how I’ll play and the condition that I’ve got myself into from not drinking so I’m really excited for that.

“The boys have been really good, especially Donno and Ash who is on a sobriety journey as well, so it’s good to have someone else there on it as well that sort of understands a bit.

“I can’t thank all the lads enough, especially all the staff as well.”

It will be very much a new-look side for Leeds Rhinos on Friday night with a number of signings made this season, particularly in the spine where four new starters are expected.

Bentley noted the recruitment of those star players as well as the young talent in the squad, hinting the club are set for a strong season.

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