“Nene will be great for Rhinos”, reckons Rhyse

NENE MACDONALD might be missing out on an early return to Leigh, but his Leeds and Papua New Guinea team-mate Rhyse Martin reckons he will go on to make a major impact for the Yorkshire club.

Macdonald, 28, scored 27 tries in as many matches last season to help bring both promotion to Super League and the 1895 Cup to Leigh, the Rhinos’ destination for their second pre-season match on Saturday (3pm).

But the former NRL star, whose trans-Pennine move was confirmed last month, picked up a quad injury while playing alongside goal-kicking second rower Martin as the Kumuls were beaten by England in the World Cup quarter-finals.

That means the former Sydney Roosters, Gold Coast Titans, St George Illawarra Dragons, North Queensland Cowboys and Cronulla Sharks man, who played under Leeds coach Rohan Smith at Queensland Cup side Norths Devils before joining Leigh, will be struggling to make Leeds’ Super League opening fixture at Warrington on Thursday, February 16, which will be the opening game of the new season and will be broadcast live by Sky Sports.

But PNG skipper Martin, who is preparing for his fourth full season with the Rhinos after joining from Canterbury Bulldogs during the 2019 campaign, has no doubt he will make up for lost time.

“Nene is a quality player who will be great for us,” he said.

“I’m really pleased that he’s going to be here.

“We actually went to the same school (Kirwan State High in Townsville, Queensland), so I’ve always stayed in touch and followed his career, and he’s achieved a lot.”
Leeds are aiming to build on last season’s run to the Grand Final, where they were beaten 24-12 by St Helens.

“What we have here is very positive,” added Martin.

“I want to make myself a better player and help us progress as a team and take that next step.

“I needed a bit of time off after the World Cup to reflect and recharge, but I’m pleased to be back, even if I’m playing catch-up on a few of the other boys.

“The feeling around the place is good and I’m enjoying myself. I’ve set my goals for the year and I’ll work hard to try to achieve them.”

This article comes from this week’s issue of League Express. You can take out a subscription by going to https://www.totalrl.com/league-express/