Whether the city of Gdansk is all too aware of the history being made in LS6 on Friday night remains to be seen: but for the Oledzki family, it will be a very special occasion indeed.
When Mikolaj Oledzki steps out during Leeds’ Challenge Cup tie with Doncaster tonight, it will be only the second time a Polish-born player has appeared for a Super League club (PSG’s Gregorz Kacala being the first). As milestones go, it is not a bad one to tick off on your debut.
The prop is one of Leeds’ most highly-rated products in years. Already an England Academy international, Oledzki has been tipped for a bright future before he has even played for the Rhinos’ first-team: and for him, Friday night will be a special occasion.
“It’s gone pretty quick. It feels like I started playing last year but it’s all gone fast and I couldn’t be happier. This is what lads dream of; playing first grade, and for me it’s a dream come true.
“It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while since last year. I got a few opportunities to be 18th man last year, and I’ve had a little taster but Friday is the real deal and I get a debut, which is a dream come true really.”
Oledzki has had to bide his time for his chance. He came close to a debut last year and has since spent time in the Championship with Bradford and Featherstone this year in preparation for his first-team debut: something he thinks has stood him in good stead.
He said: “Playing with Bradford and Featherstone this year has given me loads of experience and it’s helped me to develop, playing against teams in the Championship. I feel like I’m in the right place and form to play first-team though, and I’ll have a good performance on Friday.”
And like his coach, Oledzki is refusing to underestimate the League 1 side on Friday night as Leeds look to progress to the last 16 of the Challenge Cup.
He said: “You need to respect teams, it doesn’t matter what division they’re in.
“For them it’s a big game, and they’ll want to put in a big performance and get a win, so it’s important we respect them and try to put in the best performance we can.”