Leeds Rhinos’ NRL recruit highlights young duo as ones to watch following Boxing Day victory

Ben Olawumi
Matt Frawley

Matt Frawley in action for Leeds Rhinos in the 2023 'Wetherby Whaler' challenge - Alamy

Leeds Rhinos new boy Matt Frawley has tipped siblings Ned and Fergus McCormack to have a big future at the club after their unofficial senior debuts in yesterday’s pre-season clash with Wakefield Trinity.

Playing junior rugby for Guiseley Rangers, younger brother Fergus – 17 – has been in the Rhinos’ academy since 2021, with the half-back penning his first full-time deal in November 2022.

Elder sibling Ned – 18 – meanwhile joined Leeds earlier this year having represented England at under-18’s level in rugby union after coming through the Yorkshire Academy. The centre scored five tries in as many games for the Rhinos’ academy side at the end of the 2023 campaign.

Alongside 29-year-old Frawley, who has made the move to Headingley from NRL outfit Canberra Raiders ahead of 2024, the pair were named in Rohan Smith’s squad for the Boxing Day showdown with Trinity, and got their non-competitive debuts off the interchange bench.

Leeds Rhinos’ NRL recruit Matt Frawley highlights McCormack brothers Ned and Fergus as ones to watch following Boxing Day victory

It was the Rhinos’ youngsters who pulled them through against Championship opposition, with a younger side showing a ruthless edge in the second half to claw their way to a 41-22 victory having trailed 22-6 at the interval.

And speaking to the club’s YouTube channel post-match, Frawley highlighted the McCormack brothers as players that people should be taking note of. The Australian said: “You see blokes like Ferg and Ned. They haven’t played a lot of footy and they’re young.

“How special it was for them to be able to play their first senior game, that’s what it’s all about in these sorts of games, giving them both an opportunity.

“It’s exciting times for the club, and I know that those boys are going to come through and be a big part of the club going forward.

“We had a young group there, especially in that second half, and I think they showed the way in terms of using energy in the right way. We all wanted to make a bit of a stance in that second half, and I think across the board we did that.

“You have all pre-season and you put a lot of emphasis into these games because it’s been so long between games. Everyone’s excited, everyone wants to win and that’s a good part of it, but I think you’ve got to harness that energy in other ways sometimes.”

Frawley analyses game of two halves against Wakefield Trinity

Leeds were without a number of their senior figures on Boxing Day, with some missing through either injury or illness and some given more time off having played for their countries at the back end of the 2023 campaign.

Elsewhere, new signings Brodie Croft and Paul Momirovski were granted permission to remain Down Under with their families for the festive period.

Nonetheless, Frawley believes the game time will benefit him and his new team-mates in the long run, examining the differences between the first and second half against Wakefield as he added: “The first half was a bit disappointing.

“With a slow start, I thought we just got out-enthused a little bit, but I think we showed in the second half that with a bit of energy, intent and just playing for each other what this group can do. Overall, we can take a fair bit out of it.

“We just stripped it right back (in the second half), simplified it and got a bit of ruck speed. I think that was the key. In the first half, we weren’t finding good play-the-balls, and on the back of it they were playing quite fast. We wanted to flip that on its head, did that, and got a result.

“These trials are always just good to get a bit of rust out. I’m new to the team, trying to get used to how everyone’s playing, and it’s hard to replicate what we did out there today when we’re training, so I think we’re going to grow from the trials.

We’ve got a couple more to go before Round One, so hopefully we can fine tune a few things.”

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