LEEDS TARGET SIX WINS

Andy Key has said that ‘six-to-eight’ wins in the coming matches for Leeds Carnegie would save them. Leeds head to Newcastle on Boxing Day rooted to the bottom of the table and without a win in the league.

“Even the team that wins the league is likely to lose seven-to-nine games with the way the league is working this year,” Key told BBC Radio Leeds.

“So for us to finish the season having won six, seven, eight games that would keep us in the Premiership.”

LEEDS STOP SEARCH FOR HOOKER

Leeds Carnegie have called off their search for a Hooker. In November, injuries and unavailability forced Leeds into selecting conditioning coach James Parkes for the LV= Cup defeat by Sale.

But Steve Thompson has now returned from England duty and Scott Freer is back in action after knee surgery.

Key told BBC Radio Leeds: “If all goes well then all our problems regarding a hooker will have solved themselves.”

NILSEN THRIVES ON PRESSURE

Phil Nilsen has said that he is the kind of player to thrive on pressure that comes as the result of being the important member in the Leeds team. With Steve Thompson on England duty and Andy Titterell injured, the 25-year-old has quickly risen from third choice hooker to number one.

Nilsen told BBC Radio Leeds: “I feel there is added pressure on me to perform to the standards Thommo and Titts set.

“That’s bringing out the best in me and actually helping me.”

With conditioning coach James Parks on the bench against Exeter as emergency cover at hooker, Nilsen had to play the whole 80 minutes at Sandy Park and was one of Leeds’ standout performers.

Leeds remain in talks with potential new signings at hooker, but admit they are not close to agreeing any deals yet.

BACK HAILS LEEDS DEBUTANTS

Leeds coach Neil Back says that Lewis-Pratt and Tincknell could become the new stars for team this season. Fly-half Lewis-Pratt, 19, and centre Tinknell, 22, impressed on their debuts in the 22-21 defeat at Gloucester.

“Christian showed great maturity in his game management. He knows what he needs to work on and he will continue to improve,” Back told BBC Radio Leeds.

James also gave a fantastic show and he will be a key player for us later in the season.” Lewis-Pratt’s appearance at Kingsholme was his first in the Premiership, despite having had spells at London Irish and Northampton.

He scored 16 of Leeds’ 21 points at Glouceseter. Tincknell’s appearance, off the bench, marked a major milestone in an incredible two years.

MACKAY EXPECTING TOUGH SEASON

Leeds Carnegie’s Mackay says that he is expecting his toughest season ever. Speaking to Wales Rugby Hospitality, the Australian, 27, along with fellow Leeds new signing Steve Thompson, moved from French club Brive in the summer, where MacKay had spent two seasons.

“In the Premiership, every game is a hard slog, there just isn’t an easy game,” Mackay told BBC Radio Leeds.

“Whereas in the Top 14 you can have an off day and probably still beat one or two of the lower teams.”

The former Western Force man will compete for both the fly-half and inside centre shirt for the new season.

“There are not many people around that seem to play both positions,” he continued. “I guess centre has come more about the big ball runners, getting over the gain line.

“I grew up playing all my life at fly-half in Australia, then I got to Brive and Andy Goode was there, so I played inside centre.

“I think my size has helped me to transfer out to the centre. I can be used as a bit of a battering ram if needed and make those tackles in defence.

LEEDS SNAP UP TADULALA

Leeds Carnegie director of rugby Andy Key believes Semi Tadulala’s “burning desire” to succeed at rugby union will work in his side’s favour.

Leeds have agreed a two-year deal with the dual-code international after he failed to make an impact at Gloucester.

Having switched codes in 2009 after successful stints with Wakefield and Bradford, the Fijian winger made just two appearances for the Cherry and Whites.

However Key believes the 32-year-old Tadulala has what it take to be a success in the 15-a-side game.

Key said: “Semi is a strong and powerful runner who has shown throughout his rugby league career that he knows his way to the try line.

“Unfortunately things did not work out for him at Gloucester but we have spoken to him and he has a burning desire to succeed in rugby union.

LEEDS SNAP UP STEPHENSON

Leeds Carnegie have made their first major signing of the summer, capturing Bath winger Michael Stephenson.

The 29-year-old, who has won three England caps, has signed a two-year deal and arrives at Headingley after making 93 appearances for Bath.

“I think my time had come here (at Bath), I wanted to play a bit more rugby, so went to look at other options,” he told BBC Radio Leeds. I was impressed with Leeds, they have big plans for the future.”

The former Newcastle Falcons player moved to the Recreation Ground in 2005 and feels that Carnegie staying up is crucial for the club to become a force in the game.