Under two months away from Leeds Rhinos’ opening game of the 2023 Super League season where they will journey to Warrington Wolves, the big selection question amongst Leeds fans is: who will start at centre?
Harry Newman, after another hamstring injury at the end of 2022, is battling to be fit for the start of the season whilst new signing Nene MacDonald is dealing with a quad injury and according to coach Rohan Smith is “touch and go” for the opening game.
“He had a quad injury in the PNG vs England in the World Cup,” Smith said, “He will be in rehab for a little while.
“It’s touch and go for the opening game.”
So, who will play centre if either or both men are unavailable?
It was put to Smith that it could be new signing Derrell Olpherts from Castleford Tigers. The club spoke opening about his versatility upon signing him and he has been training at centre.
On this, Smith said: “Derrell grew up playing centre, he found his way into Super League on the wing and they just left him there. It is something we’re exploring.”
However, he was keen to highlight the wider depth in the role revealing that a youngster is “training the house down” at present.
Smith said: “As far as centre goes, we have Nene and harry Newman, Fusitu’a played there as a kid, Max Simpson, Levi Edwards is training the house down, Ash Handley can play there, Rhyse Martin is a fully qualified centre in Super League as well.”
Levi Edwards was first included in a Leeds 21-man squad in 2020 at the age of 16 during the pandemic but has yet to make his debut despite assuming the number 30 shirt in 2021 which he still holds now.
He is a similar age to Morgan Gannon who is already a seasoned player. Edwards has shone at Batley Bulldogs and York on loan in the past and is seen as a very talented young player.