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Leeds Rhinos teenage talent wants starting spot despite strong competition

Max Simpson, in a white Leeds Rhinos strip, holds off Toulouse's Chris Hankinson, who wears red.

Today marked the unofficial start of the season with the Boxing Day friendly between Leeds Rhinos and Wakefield Trinity being the traditional game that reintroduces fans to the domestic game.

With the Boxing Day battle done and in the rear view mirror it means we’re just seven weeks away from the start of the season and promising Leeds youngster Max Simpson has been asked about the start of his second professional season, and to reflect on his year one when speaking with the club’s Youtube Channel.

“It’s gone pretty quick to be honest,” Simpson said. “I suppose you don’t think about it at the time, just keep rolling through it but when you look back I’ve crammed quite a lot into one year.”

Simpson made his debut in the 2022 season with a game against Castleford Tigers but an ankle injury against Toulouse Olympique, and the resulting surgery and rehab saw his season cut short.

His return today will have proven popular with the Leeds faithful and when asked about what comes next he gave an answer that will have put a smile on fans faces once again.

“I want to just carry on, getting stronger, getting fitter and get a bit heavier. I want to play in most of the other friendlies we’ve got coming up and just keep improving until the start of the season and see what happens.”

Asked about staking a claim in the competitive centre spot amongst a squad that contains Harry Newman and Nene Macdonald as the presumed starters and then depth of Luis Roberts, Levi Edwards, Jack Smith and himself Simpson responded as such.

“Yeah, 100%. That’s what everyone wants, to be starting in Super League, and that’s something in my mind that I can do and that I will be working towards.”

With Rhinos having lost Liam Sutcliffe, Tom Briscoe, Zak Hardaker and Jack Broadbent all of whom either would start at centre or can slot in at the position it does leave a void that the young players in Rohan Smith’s side can fill the position and Simpson is certainly one of those promising players that could continue to develop.

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