Leeds Rhinos coach Brian McDermott coach admits he’s excited to see just how far young scrum-half Jordan Lilley’s game has developed as he prepares to return to Super League action tonight.
Lilley, who lined up for Leeds at scrum-half in last year’s World Club Challenge defeat to North Queensland at the age of just 19, has spent most of 2017 out on loan at Championship strugglers Bradford.
He has found opportunities in Leeds’ first-team difficult this year, but with Danny McGuire suspended and Rob Burrow injured for tonight’s game with St Helens, McDermott is keen to see how far he’s come as he gets his long-awaited chance.
“It’s great, the process he’s been through at Bradford,” he said.
“It’s a tough gig he’s got with Bradford, who are fighting tooth and nail, and he’s been learning some harsh lessons.
“It’s a specific type of game he’s had to learn, and if he’d been at a club at the other end of the table he may have had to play a different style. But he’s progressed.”
McDermott, a former Bradford player himself, also paid credit to the work done by Bulls coach Geoff Toovey in helping Lilley’s career progress.
“Geoff Toovey has been doing a great job with him at Bradford,” McDermott said. “He’s spent a lot of time with Jordan and given him some almost individual coaching.
“Jordan’s game has developed while he’s been there and I’m looking forward to seeing him tomorrow night.”
The Saints arrive at Headingley tonight in impressive form since new coach Justin Holbrook took charge – and McDermott is expecting a typically-tough St Helens side to turn up in West Yorkshire.
“They’ve gone through their poor patch but they’ve got some momentum behind them,” McDermott said. “Every time they come to Headingley, they bring a shed-load of intensity. We’re expecting a tough battle.”