GLENN Riley is feeling the pressure to step into Adrian Morley and Garreth Carvell’s boots, and he loves it.
The 21-year-old Cumbrian recognises that 2014 could potentially be the year he announces himself to the wider rugby league public with a longer stint in Wolves’ Super League team, and he is looking forward to the chance.
“It is an absolutely massive year for me personally, with two big props on the way out,” said Riley, who made six appearances for Tony Smith off the bench last year.
“I kind of feel some pressure, especially next to the calibre of players that have left and trying to fill their shoes.
“But I kind of like that pressure, it makes me work harder to perform well and to prove to Tony and the rest of the team that I deserve to be there.
“There are places up for grabs in my position, there is healthy competition and that brings the best out in all of us, so I think it could well be a big year for me personally.”
Riley’s name was on Tony Smith’s lips when asked in 2013 about the gap left by Morley and Carvell’s departure.
The hulking prop forward embodies the ‘promotion from within’ stance taken by Smith ahead of the 2014 season and with ongoing injuries to pack rivals Paul Wood and Ben Harrison, Riley believes he has a chance to emulate last year’s breakthrough success story – Ben Currie.
“I feel I am in contention for a place early on with the injuries we have,” he said.
“So if I get the chance I intend to take it, rip in and give Tony as many headaches as possible.
“You have got to aim for what Ben Currie achieved last year.
“If you give Tony no reason to take you out of the team then he can’t really.
“If you are playing well week in, week out, then it makes it hard for him to change a winning side.”
Riley is still young for a first-grade prop and when those more senior players return to full fitness his job to maintain a first team place will become harder.
Like many rising talents at the club, Riley has had to bide his time with first-team selection and has not sought going elsewhere to obtain a more regular position.
“The whole set-up makes you want to stay,” he said.
“I feel at home here right now.
“Of course you have to fight for a place, it is a top club, so it does take some time to get into that top 17 players on a regular basis.
“But it is a very good team full of talented players and I believe Tony is a top, top coach, so the rewards are more than worth it.”