Who Will The Rhinos Turn To As A Webb Replacement?
Rhinos Fullback, Brent Webb, called time on his Leeds career this month by announcing that he wonâ€™t be signing a new contract. He was offered a one year deal, but is looking to secure a two year contract in the Super League. He joined the Rhinos for the 2007, being involved in four Grand Final winning seasons. There are rumours that he will now join the Catalan Dragons as a replacement for Clint Greenshields, who is due to return to Australia at the end of the 2012 season.
The question for many Rhinos fans is who is going to replacement the one they call Superman? In the current senior squad Leeds are blessed with a couple of players capable of playing there in Lee Smith and Ben Jones-Bishop, with Zak Hardaker another option. Lee Smith covered for Webb in the 2008 Grand Final and walked away with the Harry Sunderland trophy. Handing him the number 1 jersey for 2013 would mean the Rhinos can keep the rest of the squad in their current position.
Ben Jones-Bishop played at Fullback for Harlequins under Brian McDermott in 2010 and has looked like a natural replacement at times, but has recently found himself out of the squad as the coach favoured Smith, including at the Magic Weekend, where Lee Smith played on the wing, with BJB missing out.
An untried option would be to move centre Zak Hardaker. He replaced Keith Senior at centre during 2011 and was awarded the number 4 jersey for 2012 on the back of a strong start to his career. He has looked capable of being a try scoring threat again in 2012, but service to his winger, Ryan Hall, has meant that Hall has not had the ball as much as he may like.
Perhaps the Rhinos will look at their Academy side and promote from within. The poll on the Super League Fans website list Jimmy Watson as the only option from the U20â€™s, but after his controversial transfer from Hull FC during the winter, maybe it will be Luke Briscoeâ€™s chance to take his place in the senior side. At just 18, he may be seen as too early to move him up a level, perhaps why Webb was only given a year one option.
Of course, Leeds could decide to look at the NRL, but with the Salary Cap, it may be too much of an expense. There have been rumours that winger David Williams may be signing from the Manly Sea Eagles, which would hint that either Lee Smith or Ben Jones-Bishop would be a natural replacement.
Whatever the Rhinos choose to do, they are not short of options without recruiting, but with the rest of the squad looking fairly settled already for 2013, Gary Hetherington and Brian McDermott will be able to concentrate on finding a suitable replacement. Personally, Iâ€™d like to see what Zak Hardaker could do at Fullback, with one of the U20â€™s promoted to play at centre, or indeed Carl Ablett.
Fan Article, Written By: Daniel Bell
Photo credit: SWpix.com
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