AT 31 years of age Jack Lee, who has agreed the second year of a two-year deal at Hunslet, could be forgiven for viewing the 2020 campaign as possibly his last.
That may turn out to be the case – but one suspects it very well may not.
Lee, having fully recovered from a ligament injury sustained last summer, aims to make a big impact and hopefully extend his career at the South Leeds Stadium into 2021 at least.
The hooker, who is sponsored by Tricks of the Trade, revealed: “Pre-season training has been gruelling, which is as it should be, but I’ve had no problems whatsoever.
“I’ll be giving it my all in 2020; hopefully I’ll have a good season and I’ll earn another offer from Hunslet.”
He continued: “I can’t remember a better pre-season than this one and much of that is due to the lads who’ve come in, and to the existing Hunslet players who have agreed new deals to stay here.
“There’s no backbiting or moaning, even though training’s been hard. Everyone’s getting on with it and the young lads – a few of whom are fresh out of Academy rugby – are very keen and willing to learn.
“We’ve got a great mix of youth and experience and I’m looking forward to playing alongside our new halfback pairing, Dom Brambani and Simon Brown. They’ll give us extra direction, and we’ve also got a solid pack in place.”
“It’s great to have kids like Lochlan McGill on board, too,” Lee revealed.
“He’s a good young hooker, with a fair degree of skill, and he’ll be hoping for plenty of game time; as a senior player I’ll be happy to pass on some of my experience.
“I have to admit I like the role of being a senior player and offering guidance to the younger lads.
“One piece of advice is that we’ve got to be realistic. We need to break each match down into segments, and we need to do the same with the season as a whole, looking at four games at a time; if we manage to win most of each cluster we’ll be ok.
“What we’ve definitely got to do is to make the South Leeds Stadium a fortress again after last season’s poor home record, and we’ll do that by improving our game management. We suffered last summer by not being able to see games out from winning positions.
“Poor discipline really cost us in those situations, with too many penalties conceded. Our discipline seems to be much better now, from what I can see in training, and we’ll see how we are when we’ve played Bradford Bulls, Batley Bulldogs and Leeds Rhinos in our pre-season games.
“They’re big matches but it gets properly serious when we go to Keighley Cougars in February in our first match in Betfred League 1. It’ll be a very competitive league again. The Cougars seem to have spent big, Barrow are said to have kept most of their Championship players from last season, Newcastle and Doncaster have good squads and we’re hearing that Workington are also strengthening. There are some very decent sides around, it should be a cracking season and we aim to be in the mix at the end of it.”
Head coach Gary Thornton said: “Jack is an established, experienced and well respected hooker, and a proven performer.
“He was another who was badly missed at the back end of the season with a hamstring tear, and we missed his presence, his leadership and his knowledge from a key position at dummy half.
“He is working hard in pre-season as he knows the influence he has when he’s out on the pitch; we need him out there for long minutes to guide the team.
“He will have a pivotal role and his partnership with the halves will be vitally important. I’ve worked with Jack for a few seasons now, both here and at York, and I trust his judgment and his decisions. He will be another very important cog in our machine next season.”