Leeds Rhinos prop Mikolaj Oledzki has got the temperament to be ‘outstanding’ again next season after overcoming his shoulder injury.
That’s the view of Sky Sports pundit Barrie McDermott, who has made no secret of the fact he is a keen admirer of the England international.
Oledzki played 22 games for the Rhinos in 2023 after missing the start of the season due to being sidelined by a shoulder injury.
The Poland-born powerhouse, who was named in the 2022 Super League Dream Team, has been backed to to hit the ground running next season.
“I was a front-rower all the way through my professional career and my form ebbed and flowed,” McDermott said in an exclusive interview with Love Rugby League.
“Part of that was down to maturity and part was down to managing my mounting injuries.
“In that position, your body takes a battering – you’re not diving over to score tries during games but running into car crashes 20/25 times with the ball and 30 or 40 times without the ball.
“It takes a toll physically, so I reckon in the first part of your career you’re just learning how to use your body destructively but with safety in mind so you can play week in, week out.
“There’s no doubt Mikolaj hasn’t been the same since he came back from his shoulder injury last year.
“But if he can have an off-season where he gets his body right and works on his game then he’s got the temperament to be outstanding again.”
Sky Sports pundit Barrie McDermott tips Mikolaj Oledzki to make a big impact in 2024
There’s no doubting Oledzki’s ability, with the 25-year-old having made 135 appearances for Leeds since his first team debut back in 2017.
The Gdansk-born prop has also won international honours with England, playing for Shaun Wane’s side in last year’s World Cup.
McDermott has tipped an injury-free Oledzki to have a big season with Rohan Smith’s side in 2024.
“Big Mik is one of those damaging ball-runners who takes some handling because he’s a big man who is powerful, agile and quick,” McDermott.
“The finesse with the ball that’s he trying to add on to his game will only make him more of a threat.
“You look at somebody like Alex Walmsley, who has been one of the most important front-rowers in the past five or six years.
“It took Alex a long time to grow into his body and his role, so I see Mikolaj as partway through that learning process.
“I’d like to see him have more of an impact in 2024 which will mean a campaign that he can look back on and be somewhere near his best, having finally got over that shoulder injury.”