Sky Sports pundit highlights key position where Leeds Rhinos still need to strengthen after ‘fabulous’ signings

Ross Heppenstall
Barrie McDermott Sky Sports Alamy

Barrie McDermott has hailed Leeds' signings of Brodie Croft and Andy Ackers - Alamy

Sky Sports pundit Barrie McDermott has hailed Leeds Rhinos’ signings of Brodie Croft and Andy Ackers, and has detailed the key position they still need to strengthen ahead of 2024.

The Rhinos, who finished eighth in 2023, are in the midst of big recruitment drive ahead of next season, bringing six new signings to Headingley as they prepare for next season.

Mickael Goudemand, Lachie Miller, Matt Frawley and Paul Momirovski had already been locked in for 2024, and on Wednesday morning Rohan Smith’s side announced the captures of Salford duo Brodie Croft and Andy Ackers.

“I wasn’t feeling too excited about next season (from a Leeds perspective), but then the Rhinos went and signed Brodie Croft and Andy Ackers,” McDermott told Love Rugby League.

“Croft was last year’s Steve Prescott Man of Steel, he’s in his mid-twenties with a lot of rugby league ahead of him.

“Ackers is a bit older at 29, but still very much in the prime of his career and was part of England’s World Cup squad last year.

“These are two fabulous signings that have added in much-needed quality to the squad.

“Both men spent significant time playing under Paul Rowley, who I think has a very similar, free-flowing style to Rohan Smith.

“Croft and Ackers play with speed and awareness and their arrival has created a wave of optimism that you should always feel about Leeds Rhinos ahead of a new season.

“For me, Leeds are the biggest club in the game – the best facility and the best fanbase and when things are right Headingley is the best place to watch and play rugby league.”

Barrie McDermott believes Leeds Rhinos still need to make ‘one or two’ signings ahead of next season

McDermott believes the Rhinos are on the right path with their recruitment drive for next season – but still feels like they still need ‘one or two’ more new recruits in the forward pack.

The Sky Sports pundit added: “The Rhinos have already signed Lachie Miller, Paul Momirovski, Matt Frawley and Mickael Goudemand.

“But they still need strengthening in another couple of areas and I’d be in favour of bringing another big man in to strengthen the middle unit.

“Sam Lisone really grew into his role in 2023 and I’ve always had time for Mikolaj while Tom Holroyd came back like a new player last season.

“There is youth and optimism around the forwards, but there isn’t as much pace in the side as I’d like.

“You look at last weekend’s Grand Final with players like Tom Johnstone, Bevan French and Jai Field on show.

“At Leeds they’re lacking out and out pace in the back division players that when they get the ball in their hands, can score a full-length try.

“Nene Macdonald may have had that pace, but obviously he’s gone and Leeds will hope that Momorovski can be the ideal replacement.

“Yet they still need one or two more key signings.”

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