Article

Hoffman ready for Leeds challenge

25 January 2013 06:02

Melbourne Storm second-rower Ryan Hoffman will be a man on a mission on February 22.

The international forward is bidding to win a third World Club Challenge title when NRL premiers Storm tackle English champions Leeds Rhinos at Headingley.

It will be Hoffman's fifth appearance on club rugby league's biggest stage and he can't wait to get on the plane.

"I have played in four and been on both sides (as) part of the Australian side and part of the English with Wigan," said Hoffman, who played one season with Super League giants Wigan Warriors in 2011 before returning 'home' to Melbourne for 2012.

"I know the English fans love it and me as a player going over there, I really enjoyed it too.

"Everyone wants to get on the plane to go to England. It's the first trophy up for grabs in 2013 and we are definitely going to give it a good shake."

Hoffman said preparations are going well for the clash with competition for places intensifying.

"So it's all about training well now and showing the coach that you can do your job well because they are the types of players Bellyache (coach Craig Bellamy) wants to take to England," said Hoffman, who celebrates his 29th birthday on Australia Day.

"There are only limited opportunities for the boys to show what they are made of.

"I am keen to have a hit-out whether it is the one next week or the one against the Raiders (in Geelong on February 8)."

Hoffman, who is just three matches short of 200 NRL appearances for the Storm, said the English winter has to be taken into consideration.

"(We) are going to be there for two weeks. It's going to be cold and there is going to be a bit of snow but that's part of the joy of going to England in February," he said.

"We will enjoy it and when we come back we are in Townsville for round two. These are all challenges but they are all challenges we are looking forward to.

"I am really excited. It's a fun trip. It breaks up your pre-season, too, knowing you have that bit of light at the end of the tunnel. It makes pre-season a bit more bearable.

"We have a pre-season camp over to England with a very tough game at the end of it."

But Hoffman says Melbourne will not be taking Leeds Rhinos lightly.

"They are a team that has been in six of the last seven grand finals in the UK so they have definitely got some great players in Danny McGuire and skipper Kevin Sinfield, the Golden Boot winner," he said.

"There's also Jamie Peacock. I played against him a couple of years ago and for a bloke of his age he's still playing really well so they have a really good side.

"We have formed a bit of a rivalry and with the last two world club championships we are one apiece.

"I think Melbourne and Leeds are similar in terms of their success over the past couple of years so it's all shaping up to be a big game."

Hoffman has been particularly impressed with one of the new Storm recruits, Lagi Setu, the former Brisbane Broncos forward.

"The bloke has not touched a rugby league ball in two years and the way that he has come in and not only got used to playing rugby league again at training but also our systems as well - that just shows how hard he has been working," Hoffman said.

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