O’Connor sets the bar high with Leeds

After joining Leeds Rhinos Academy last week from Widnes Vikings, Jarrod O’Connor is aiming to develop and improve under Rob Burrow and the academy coaches.

The loose forward said: “I’m dead excited to get going. It’s a new team which I’ve never experienced before but I’m coming into a club that is so big, in terms of its heritage and the amount of staff around that can help me progress and develop. It’s only been a couple of days but as soon as we came in, everyone has made me feel welcome, shaking our hands and talking with us. I recognise a few from when I played with Lancashire so it’s been good to get to know everyone.”

Like team mate Sam Walters, O’Connor played his junior rugby at Halton Farnworth Hornets and was signed by Widnes. Whilst in the academy, the seventeen-year-old played a number of positions in order to extend his capabilities and development is something that O’Connor holds as a priority to reach his goals. “I think that looking at the first team Rhinos players and seeing who plays in my position will be key. Hopefully then, should I get a few chances to play or train with them, I can get tips and ask questions on how I can progress. There’s obviously the coaching staff as well as Kev (Sinfield), who is a key figure for me because he played in my position and he’s got so much experience.”

On the topic of academy coach Rob Burrow, O’Connor was excited about training with the former Leeds Rhinos star. “He’s got all the knowledge that as a team we need to push on and be the best. He’s been in the first team environment so he can tell us all the best strategies to help us progress through the club and where is best to learn from.”

Jarrod is the son of former Wigan and Great Britain prop and current Sky Sports rugby league pundit Terry O’Connor, with the forward having fond memories with his dad on the touchline. “He’s always making sure I’m learning after every game and training session. He points out key areas where I did well and what needed improving. Barrie McDermott is a good family friend and he also used to give me an insight into the set up at Leeds. He used to tell me how good it was and how all the coaches can help develop your game. I didn’t speak to him specifically before I signed for Leeds though.”

Watch the full interview here: