James Bentley inspired by Leeds Rhinos legend ahead of Grand Final as he reflects on ‘gutting’ debut

At the end of last year, James Bentley left Champions St Helens for boyhood club Leeds and now he is just hours away from walking out at Old Trafford with the Rhinos chasing a boyhood club.

It is these memories, including one in particular which came against today’s opponents St Helens from a very beloved Leeds Rhinos legend, that inspire him ahead of today’s final: “I remember coming here as a kid and watching them winning it hoping one day I’d get to do that and now I get the chance to do that and I can’t wait.

“The Robbie Burrow try from 2011 is one that always stands out to me.”

Speaking of tries, Bentley scored two tries in Leeds’ semi-final win over Wigan last week and he said there’s “no better feeling”:

“There’s no better feeling, to get the win was the main thing to score especially in front of that packed Leeds end, it was mad I loved it.”

It’s been a terrific end to the season for Bentley who admitted the season couldn’t have had a worse start as he was sent off just minutes into his debut against Warrington: “I remember having my debut shirt presented to him in front of my mum, dad and my sister and then I was red carded after 15 minutes. It couldn’t have gone any worse. I was gutted. Then to miss the next four games after that and a few more, but I’ve learnt my lesson now. I need to play on the right side of the line.

“Rohan coming in got my confidence up, enjoying my rugby and when I’m happy and enjoying it that’s when I’m at my best.”

Since the arrival of Rohan Smith, Bentley has become a key player for the Rhinos especially in defence and he revealed that’s the element of rugby league he loves: “That’s the part of the game I love, getting stuck in with that graft. That’s my job for the team and if that’s what I need to do I’ll get it done.”

Leeds will need him to be at his best defensively if they are going to beat his former club today.

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