Last season, in a injury hit campaign, Jack Broadbent was one point of real positivity for the Leeds Rhinos.
Broadbent was one of the young players who propelled Leeds into the top six despite a growing list of injuries and his try scoring ability was key to that. The versatile back, who is a centre by trade, scored tries for fun including one in the crucial Magic Weekend win over Hull FC.
He also scored four in one game against Leigh in a run that saw him score seven tries in three games as Leeds turned their season around with wins over Castleford, Salford and the Centurions.
However, despite that he found himself down the pecking order in 2022. Even in Round Two he seemed set for a spot on the wing following an injury to David Fusitu’a but saw Liam Tindall – who only made one appearance for Leeds in 2021 – start ahead of him.
Things got worse for the Broadbent over Easter. First, second-row Alex Mellor was preferred at centre to him against Huddersfield before Mellor and 17-year-old Max Simpson were both picked ahead of him on Easter Monday against Castleford.
This, alongside struggling contract talks with his deal set to run out in 2022, will have been tough for Broadbent to deal with and left his future up in the air.
But last night, as Leeds’ injuries continued to mount, Broadbent got his chance and took it with a lively and dangerous performance.
Surprisingly, Broadbent was Leeds’ top metre maker on the night with 164 metres to his name.
Much of this came at fullback after he switched there due to an injury to Liam Sutcliffe and appeared to have plenty of joy using his footwork and pace to test the Toulouse defence.
His metres not only show how he tested the opposition in good ball but demonstrate that he’s willing to work and take the pressure off metre machine Ash Handley at the start of sets who Leeds have relied on to get them forward recently. Handley still made 137 metres but if he can be backed up by a fullback willing to do the hard yards as Broadbent showed he is last night, Leeds can get on the front foot quicker.
So, a good performance from Broadbent and one key to victory for Leeds. So, it was no surprise that after the game interim Head Coach Jamie Jones-Buchanan praised him referencing the “emotional chat” the two had had on Monday regarding selection.
“He’s got a few fans has Jack hasn’t he?” Buchanan joked when asked about Broadbent, “I’m pleased. I had a bit of an emotional chat with Jack last week and I understand Max Simpson jumps in there. I was the best 18th man in the world for about five years when I was coming through and there would be six or seven injuries and I’d still be 18th man so I understand the why he’s feeling.
“I sat down with him and I said ‘sport can change overnight you’ve just got to be prepared for that opportunity’ and through circumstance that came tonight and I’ll tell you now I grabbed him at halftime and said ‘if you play like that every week you’ll be in the team every week.'”
He seems sure of a place in Leeds’ team next week with Liam Sutcliffe and Tom Briscoe going off injured last night compounding Leeds’ injury struggles. Even if Leeds make a sensational move for Zak Hardaker as they are rumoured to do, it seems Broadbent will have another chance to make a statement against Hull KR.