Leeds Rhinos Physical Disability Rugby League team will return to action this weekend with a triple-header at the Mend-A-Hose-Jungle in Castleford.
The Rhinos will head down the M62 for local derbies against Bradford Bulls and league-leaders Wakefield Trinity, before taking on reigning PDRL Champions Warrington Wolves in the Round 3 Festival.
After four wins from their first five games, Rhinos PDRL Coach Keiran Hickman has been delighted by the start his side have made to the 2022 season.
“The start we’ve made has been pleasing for us all, said Hickman. “I know in pre-season we set some targets and so far we’ve managed to only lose one game, so we’re well on track with getting to where we want to be come the end of the season.
“We put in a great performance at the last festival in Warrington and so the big test now it to try maintain that when we come up against the top sides like Wakefield and Wire on Saturday.
There will be six teams competing at the PDRL Festival with Leeds Rhinos joined by hosts Castleford Tigers, Warrington Wolves, Wakefield Trinity, Wigan Warriors, and newcomers Bradford Bulls.
Each of the teams will play multiple fixtures on the day – with the Rhinos going up against Wakefield, Warrington and Bradford in a repeat of the first festival at Eastmoor Dragons.
With that opening defeat to Trinity remaining the only thing between the Rhinos and top spot in the PDRL League, Hickman hopes his side can go one better this time around and pick up maximum points.
“It would be nice to finally get one back over Wakefield, but the biggest thing is that it will be a measure of how we’ve come in the first few weeks of the season.
“When we’ve looked back on that defeat at Eastmoor it was due to our own errors, so hopefully the players will have taken on board what we’ve spoken about and put those things right. We’ve not just hammered them for the mistakes, we’ve also worked on things that went well to make sure we execute and do it even better this time around.
“We weren’t smart enough with the ball and we didn’t use the pitch to our advantage. Even the way we finished our sets and the way we moved ourselves around the field wasn’t applying what we’d worked on in training.
“The more we can restrict sides like Wakefield and Warrington with field position and possession by doing the simple things correct and being smart with the ball, the much better chance we have of winning.
“When me and Neil came in last year we brought a lot of new ideas and it took some time for everyone to gel and get to grips with our way of playing. But come the end of the season we looked unstoppable and with a couple more games we’d have probably got into the Grand Final.
“We got a much better understanding of the roles each player suited and where they needed to be, and that’s when I think we started to see the best of them. But most importantly they were enjoying their Rugby and getting a real buzzing out of their games, which is what PDRL is all about at the end of the day.”
It will be somewhat of a homecoming for Hickman this weekend, returning to the club where he used to coach before making the switch to work with the Rhinos PDRL team.
And the former Featherstone player is excited to lead his team out at the Jungle, which is an exciting opportunity for the squad to play at a Betfred Super League stadium.
Hickman said: “It’ll be a great occasion and it’s great that Castleford will be allowing us to play on their main pitch at The Mend-A-Hose Jungle. I’ve been lucky enough to play on it a few times myself as a player and coach there with Castleford PDRL, even though it’s not the biggest stadium it’s such an iconic venue and it’s probably one of the best pitches in Super League too.
“For some of our lads who have never got to sample playing in a professional stadium before it’s a massive occasion and we’ll try to enjoy it as much as we can. Hopefully we’ll get a decent crowd turn up to cheer on the players and enjoy some great PDRL action between all the teams.”
The full list of fixtures and kick off times for the PDRL Festival at Castleford Tigers is:
Game 1 – 10.45am (Pitch 1): Wigan Warriors vs Castleford Tigers
Game 2 – 10.45am (Pitch 2): Wakefield Trinity vs Warrington Wolves
Game 3 – 11:30am (Pitch 1): Bradford Bulls vs Leeds Rhinos
Game 4 – 11:30am (Pitch 2): Wigan Warriors vs Warrington Wolves
Game 5 – 12.15pm (Pitch 1): Wakefield Trinity vs Leeds Rhinos
Game 6 – 12.15pm (Pitch 2): Bradford Bulls vs Castleford Tigers
Game 7 – 1.00pm (Pitch 1): Wigan Warriors vs Wakefield Trinity
Game 8 – 1.00pm (Pitch 1): Warrington Wolves vs Leeds Rhinos
Entry is FREE for all spectators, with limited car parking and food and drink available on site.
The full 15-man Leeds Rhinos PDRL squad for Sunday is:
For more information about Leeds Rhinos PDRL and how to get involved, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.