Former Raiders halves Aidan Sezer and Blake Austin helped Leeds get their 2022 campaign off to a winning start with a 34-6 Boxing Day victory over Wakefield Trinity at Headingley Stadium.
Sezer and Austin, who played together at Canberra from 2016 to 2018, re-united for their first outing in a Rhinos' jersey, while Jack Sinfield – the 17-year-old son of former Leeds and England great Kevin Sinfield – got a taste of top grade action.
Sinfield received a huge ovation when he entered the field in the second half to replace Sezer, who suffered a minor ankle injury.
“It gave me goose bumps really, it was a dream come true," Sinfield told the Leeds website. “I loved it, it went really quick, it felt like two minutes but I loved it.
"I was really nervous but excited at the same time, it was good to get out there. It was a great experience to feel like what it’s like on a game day and get used to it.”
Kobe Poching, the son of former Samoa international and current Wakefield coach Willie Poching, was also on the interchange bench for Wakefield.
Poching's men opened the scoring through Lewis Murphy but Wakefield didn’t cross again after the winger's early try.
Sezer scored the first try for Leeds, while captain Ash Handley crossed for a double either side of half-time.
Centre Harry Newman also notched a brace of tries in the second half and Tom Briscoe rounded out the scoring.
Sinfield, the Leeds academy half who signed his first professional contract earlier in the year, stepped up to convert the last two tries and make the final score 34-6.
Sezer shrugged off any concerns about his fitness and said he had come off as a pre-caution after his 2021 season with Huddersfield was ended prematurely by an ankle injury.
"It’s probably just a bit of fear in me because obviously it’s my first game back after my injury and it was just a bit precautionary," Sezer said.
“We got what we needed to out of the game. We know we’re working on a lot of combinations and it’s always tough to replicate the conditions at training so it’s good to get out there."
Leeds coach Richard Agar was pleased with the hit-out and the opportunity to blood Sinfield, whose father captained the Rhinos to seven Super League grand final triumphs.
“It’s a great little story," Agar said. "When we’ve been trying to shape our squad we look back at [Leeds] Golden Generation and they had an abundance of spine players and leaders and we feel we have a really strong core of young English talent.
“We feel that Jack is a player who at junior level has stood out. There’s not a massive expectation for him to play first grade this year but we felt that getting him in with Aidan Sezer and Blake Austin would be giving him a head start.
“We think he has the skills and the temperament and is a player we can develop in that position.”