Leeds Rhinos have had former rugby union star Lewis Boyce training with them throughout pre-season on a trial basis.
This has raised persistent questions over whether Leeds will sign the prop ahead of the new season or if his trial will come to an end and the two will part ways.
Should Leeds choose to sign him, he would not count on their salary cap due to the rules around rugby union converts.
Speaking this week, Leeds Rhinos Head Coach Rohan Smith explained that he could still be given a contract at the club despite reports that he is more likely to join a Championship side and be monitored by the Rhinos.
“Lewis is still training and working hard to adapt his game to rugby league,” Smith said to Yorkshire Evening Post, “He’s making some improvements. We’re chatting every week or two and just checking in to see where we both want to take it.
“At the minute, he’s getting opportunities on that reserves team [alongside players not in Rhinos’ official 30-man Super League squad] while we’re missing a few. That gives him a chance to see how his rugby league journey can develop.”
Boyce will not be involved in Boxing Day as Leeds take on Wakefield in their Festive Challenge.
Under new owners and management, Wakefield Trinity begin their preparation for life in the Betfred Championship with the first of two scheduled friendlies on Boxing Day against the Rhinos.
Quickly putting last year’s Super League campaign behind them, Trinity are aiming for a big year and set their stall out early with the capture of the experienced Daryl Powell as their head coach. Known for his success at neighbours Castleford, Powell was the first of a number of changes behind the scenes, and moves have been made to improve the on-field performances too. 13 names have been moved on and so far eight players have been brought in, including serial try scorer Jermaine McGillvary from Huddersfield, experienced Iain Thornley and young prospects Tom Doyle (Keighley) and Myles Lawford (Bradford).
One of the major movers too was Lachlan Walmsley, another player renowned for his try scoring feats at Halifax. Last season in particular, no player crossed the try line more than him with 38 in 31 games. Overseas talent bolsters the forward pack further as Luke Bain (Parramatta), Caleb Uele (Cronulla Sharks) and Toby Boothroyd (Cronulla Sharks) arrive in place of David Fifita, Jai Whitbread and Kelepi Tanginoa.
Although Leeds’ Boxing Day games have a history that dates back to the early 1900s, Wakefield became involved in the tradition for the first time in 2005 when they became the fourth side to play annually at Headingley.
Having lost the first two meetings to the Rhinos, Trinity picked up the next two results before Leeds’ won the next four. Included in that was the 2010 match, which was delayed to New Year’s Day due to a frozen pitch, but that didn’t stop the Rhinos taking away a 40-22 result. 2013 was only the second time the Festive Challenge ended in a draw as neither side could be separated in an 18-18 stalemate, but Leeds rallied a year later thanks to five tries from Ash Handley.
Looking back at the last decade, Wakefield have only managed three wins in 2015, 2016 and 2022. Last year in particular, a high-scoring affair saw a young Rhinos outfit rally to stay in contention, until Trinity ran away with the result with four tries in the last 20 minutes.
The only time the Festive Challenge has been played away from Headingley in recent memory was 2018, when a low-scoring 10-4 score saw Mikolaj Oledzki lead the try scoring at Belle Vue.
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