London Broncos academy graduate Oli Leyland said the physicality of Betfred Championship Rugby League has been a perfect development platform for him.
Leyland, who made his Broncos debut in the Betfred Challenge Cup on March 28, went on to make an additional eight appearances for the club during our 2021 campaign.
The half-back registered his first professional try in our 50-22 win against York City Knights at the Trailfinders Sports Club on July 11 and even scooped Broncos’ Man of the Match when Featherstone Rovers visited west London earlier this month.
Reflecting on his development this season, Leyland said playing with and coming up against experienced players has helped improve his game.
“Championship Rugby League is very physical,” said Leyland. “But equally, there are players at this level who have been playing the game for a long time and are so in tune with everything that happens on the pitch.
“They play the game very smartly, and it means you have to concentrate for the entire match – you cannot afford to switch off at any moment. To be around those types of players in the Broncos squad has been invaluable to me.
“I’m subconsciously learning little pockets of knowledge by playing at this level which I’m very pleased about.”
Leyland hopes the experience he has gained this season will help him become a better player in 2022.
“As a team we were all really disappointed how the season ended, no one wanted to finish outside the play-off frame,” said Leyland. “Personally, I was aiming to appear in three to five games through the season.
“I hoped to make my debut and take things from there. So, to play in nine games has been really good for my development and I’ve experienced different positions too. It’s added a few strings to my bow, for sure.
“Learning from the squad’s more experienced players has really helped to shape me as a player too. The likes of Chris Hankinson, Cory Aston and Rhys Curran – they’ve played an important role in my development as a player in the last year.”