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Matt Prior “loves” playing with “very respected player” and “one of the best” at Leeds Rhinos

The Leeds Rhinos pack will be tried and tested on Saturday in the Grand Final.

It many ways it will be that area of the field that success or failure will be mined for the Rhinos as they come up against the best pack in Super League, and one of the greatest ever boosted of course by the fact Morgan Knowles will be allowed to play.

However, the Rhinos have class of their own as well as experience in the shape of Zane Tetevano and Matt Prior who between them have three NRL Grand Final wins from four appearances.

Not alone in the tenacity they bring to the Rhinos middle unit, they also have Mikolaj Oledzki. Named in the Super League Dream Team, an England international Oledzki will be hoping for a huge game at Old Trafford on Saturday against the Saints to prove that he is indeed one of the best props around, but for Matt Prior Oledzki already is.

“The way he’s developed since I’ve been here he’s gone from strength to strength,” Prior said of Oledzki, “When I got here he was a young kid but he’s grown into a leader and one of the best front rowers in the comp, I don’t know where he ranks but he’s got to be right up there.

“I love playing with him, he’s a very respected player.”

Prior loves playing alongside Oledzki and gets to do so on the biggest stage on Saturday but it was nearly very different had he left Leeds due to the struggles of the pandemic: “That first period being away from family and friends was hard but it was hard for everyone, it was hard back home in Australia.

“Ever since everything has cleared up we’ve been able to done a load of stuff over here. It was definitely tough going in and out of lockdowns, living in a small apartment and not being able to do much. I was getting sick of it and I just wanted to be with friends and family. At that time Australia hadn’t really gone into many lockdowns so I felt like I was missing out, I was pretty keen to go home so I was pretty close [to leaving], how close I don’t know.

“It started playing on my mind that I was missing out on life back home, but I’m glad I stayed.

“This justifies it. Had I gone home and seen the boys in a Grand Final I’d have thought ‘maybe I should have stayed’ so the fact we’re here and hopefully we can win it and it’ll make it sweeter.”

Prior in the end stayed and now gets to play in the biggest game of the year given more motivation by the fact the last time he played in a final, for Leeds at Wembley in 2020, it was without fans: “Yeah definitely, not playing in front of any fans for the Challenge Cup, it was a bit weird but nonetheless, it was an amazing achievement but I’m definitely looking forward to playing at Old Trafford in front of a packed house and soaking up the atmosphere.”

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