Rugby League - Vickery looking to make his mark

Little-known Australian Joe Vickery is hoping to make a name for himself by helping Leeds topple NRL champions Melbourne Storm in the 2013 World Club Challenge.

PA Sport
Rugby League - Vickery looking to make his mark

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Zak Hardaker's injury has presented Joe Vickery with a chance for Leeds

The 23-year-old utility back has recovered from ankle ligament damage in half the time expected and has been included in the Rhinos' 19-man squad for Friday's match.

"I couldn't be happier," Vickery said in a break from training at Leeds' training base in Kirkstall.

Vickery, who earned himself a 12-month contract after impressing in close-season trials, made his first-grade debut as a replacement for winger Ben Jones-Bishop in Leeds' opening Super League match against Hull three weeks ago. But he limped off injured before half-time and was told he would be facing a six-week spell on the sidelines.

"It was quite disheartening but now it's turned around," he said. "Rich Hunwicks (assistant conditioner) put me through a really good programme and got me back quick. He's been phenomenal. The research he is doing to get people back quicker is just awesome, I've never seen it before."

Vickery gets his chance following the loss of full-back Zak Hardaker with a broken thumb, although he has yet to discover his role in Friday's game, with centre Kallum Watkins also a possibility for the number one shirt.

"I know I'm in the squad, I haven't been told my role yet but I'll play wherever I'm told to play," Vickery said. "I don't really care, even if it's prop I'll put my hand up. For most of my career I've been on the wing but I've played a fair few of my games at full-back."

Vickery, who was born in Exeter but raised in Australia, spent three years trying to break into the NRL but never got past reserve-grade level and that prompted him to try his luck in England. Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy recalls the youngster playing for St George's Toyota Cup team and Vickery is familiar with several of the Storm players.

"I was with Lagi Setu at the Dragons in 2008 and I've played against Gareth Widdop, Sisi Waqa and Jesse Bromwich," he said. "I know he (Bellamy) pays quite close attention to his juniors so hopefully I stood out but if he doesn't know much about me I'm fine with that. I couldn't quite crack it over there but I've been given my chance here so I'm biting at the bit."

Leeds' 19-man squad: K Watkins, J Moon, R Hall, D McGuire, R Burrow, K Leuluai, P McShane, J Peacock, J Jones-Buchanan, C Ablett, K Sinfield (capt), S Ward, B Delaney, I Kirke, C Clarkson, M Achurch, R Moore, J Keinhorst, J Vickery.

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