Five players that excelled in pre-season friendlies this weekend including Leeds Rhinos and Bradford Bulls duo

ANOTHER week of pre-season friendlies is now done and dusted with some hard-fought games across the board.

St Helens overcame Widnes Vikings, Castleford Tigers thrashed Whitehaven, Wakefield Trinity narrowly beat Featherstone Rovers, Leeds Rhinos got one over on Bradford Bulls, Salford Red Devils just about got over the line against Swinton Lions whilst Wigan Warriors could not beat Barrow Raiders.

But, just which five players excelled from the weekend?

Leon Ruan – Leeds Rhinos

Signed from League One side Doncaster ahead of the 2023 Super League season, Leon Ruan has taken to a full-time environment like a duck to water. Already impressing in the losses to Wakefield Trinity and Leigh Leopards, Ruan once more took his chance in the back-row against the Bradford Bulls on Sunday afternoon. The teenager crossed for the first try of the afternoon, but it was his continued endeavour and great communication that impressed most. Leeds look to have a real talent on their hands and it wouldn’t be surprising to see Ruan get big minutes in 2023.

Jack Walker – Bradford Bulls

Signed from Leeds Rhinos in the off-season, Jack Walker has a big year ahead of him. Only signing a one-year deal with the Bradford Bulls, Walker has a point to prove to a number of people that he is still very much the same star that saw him become the youngest ever Grand Final winner in 2017. The fullback has had a torrid time with injuries, spending a number of seasons on the sidelines, but Walker will be hoping for better in 2023 in a fresh start. And in the loss to the Leeds Rhinos on Sunday afternoon, Walker certainly provided that energy and enthusiasm to the Bradford side.

Riley Dean – Warrington Wolves

It is still quite a surprise that Warrington Wolves let Riley Dean go on a season-long loan to Featherstone Rovers given the buzz surrounding the young halfback. However, it is very much Rovers’ gain as the teenager impressed greatly in Rovers’ loss to Wakefield Trinity on Sunday afternoon. With a mature head on young shoulders, the playmaker created a number of opportunities and ran the show for Featherstone, particularly in the first-half when Rovers led 12-0 at half-time. Dean’s kicking game also troubled Wakefield on numerous occasions and that was the reason for one Featherstone try.

Lewis Dodd – St Helens

Coming back from a season-ending Achilles injury must take some doing – especially for someone as young as St Helens star Lewis Dodd. But, the young halfback made his long-awaited return on Friday night in Mark Percival’s testimonial game against Widnes Vikings and he excelled throughout. Scoring a try and being his imperious best, Dodd will be aiming to be Saints’ main man in 2023 after such a heartbreaking year, but the 21-year-old has all the tools to make it to the very top in the sport and this season will be evidence of this.

Jack Broadbent – Castleford Tigers

He excelled in Castleford Tigers’ first pre-season game against Featherstone Rovers and Jack Broadbent was on form against Whitehaven on Sunday afternoon. Starting in the halves – a position which he the former Leeds Rhinos man is unlikely to take up during the season due to the signing of Jacob Miller and Gareth Widdop – Broadbent starred against the Championship outfit, scoring yet another superb 50 metre effort. The 26-year-old added another to his tally later in the day, with Broadbent aiming for a first-team place in 2023.