sport

Gamble pays off for Vickery

Little-known Joe Vickery is set to make his first-grade debut in Leeds' opening match of the Super League season after his gamble paid off.

The 23-year-old utility back, who was born in Exeter but raised in Australia, risked all by joining the Rhinos on a three-month trial in November but earned a contract after producing a two-try display in their Boxing Day win over Wakefield.

"He came over for very little money on a trial basis and, if it hadn't have panned out with us, who knows what he would have done," said coach Brian McDermott.

"He didn't have anything else lined up. I already admired him for that, not that that swayed my decision at all. It does give you an indication of what the bloke is willing to sacrifice.

"We had to base a decision on training and playing and he showed up really well.

"I'm pleased it's worked out for him. It's proved you don't have to come through the academy ranks to make it as a Super League player.

"There are 22 and 23-year-old blokes out there playing in the second tier or playing amateur, that can still do it.

"While he's never played an NRL game, he's got enough rugby league experience, he's not a rookie."

Vickery, who has played for Gold Coast Titans' feeder club Tweed Head, almost joined Hull last season but is now set to face them in the champions' opening match at Headingley tomorrow week.

He can play centre or full-back but is set to take the wing spot of Ben Jones-Bishop, who has been ruled out for several months after discovering a blood clot in one of his lungs.

The 24-year-old England Knights winger was stunned to be diagnosed with a pulmonary embolism during pre-season training.

"It was scary at first because I didn't grasp it." he said.

"I was shocked when the doctor said I'd be out for six months. I didn't really take on board anything else he said at the time.

"But I've had time to digest it. Obviously it's a major setback but I can't do anything about it.

"I'm just doing moderate training at the moment, weights and a bit of light cardio work and building it up each week.

"I had a scan last week and saw the specialist who said things are improving and gave me the go-ahead to pick it up.

"They can't do any tests until you're off the medication, which I'm on for another 10 weeks. I can't do any contact until then."

Jones-Bishop has drawn encouragement from Castleford centre Kirk Dixon and Wigan's former Hull KR stand-off Blake Green, who have both gone through similar experiences.

"Kirk got in contact with me and said not to worry about it," he said.

"He's back playing and is fine and Blake Green is also back playing.

"I've had a few injuries so I've had a few setbacks before, I just have to deal with them in the same way."