Oli Leyland keen to propel London Broncos into new era

The 2022 season is the start of a new era for the London Broncos.

The Rugby League Championship side have moved stadium, now playing at AFC Wimbledon’s Plough Lane, and have even changed their colours to blue and yellow to match those of the Wombles.

And one of the faces of this new era is 20-year-old half-back Oli Leyland.

Leyland is a product of the Broncos academy and broke into the first-team in 2020 before the season was interrupted by COVID.

Despite his success, rugby league was not Leyland’s first sporting love.

He said: “I started playing rugby league when I was ten years old, I initially played rugby union and was going to quit that to play football.

“But everyone I played with at my union club went to play rugby league for the local club, so I thought I would sign for them to stay in contact with my mates, and it just went from there.”

Leyland eventually committed to rugby league when the Broncos offered him a place in their academy.

He said: “I was playing league and union up until I was 16, and when you get to 16 league will offer you a contract and give you two years.

“Whereas union you can get dropped at any time, so that loyalty and investment was what really attracted me to it.”

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Although Leyland has made a fast start to his career, he admits that it has not been without its challenges.

He said: “I’ve been playing out of position in a lot of my games, but that’s just something you have to deal with.

“In the academy and lower down you just play your position and do what you want to do, but at the higher level it’s about getting the minutes wherever you can.

“The physical side of it as well, that step up in intensity is massive.”

This season is the London Broncos third in the RFL Championship since their relegation from the Super League in 2019, and Leyland is focused on restoring the club to its former glories.

He said: “We’re trying to do a bit of a re-build here, and base the team around the London players and start getting a real London team together.

“My goal right now is to be there for that, and help develop a great team.”

And the London Broncos new stadium will help them build towards this goal.

Leyland said: “The support for our first game was amazing, there were over 2000 fans there which was a real plus for the club.

“Being in a good stadium like Wimbledon’s, it’s created a different feel around the club, there’s a real building block which should help us achieve.”

Despite their high hopes for the season, the Broncos have lost their opening two games to Widnes and Halifax.

But, these two results aren’t dampening the spirits of Leyland and his team-mates.

He said: “That first game was our first real hit out as a team with a lot of new players, whereas Widnes were training together since the end of October.

“We lost a lot of our pre-season before Christmas because of COVID, so I think the more we play together and get to know each other off the pitch, then the better things will become and the results will improve.”

In the London Broncos next match, they host winless Whitehaven RLFC on Sunday 13 February.

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9 February 2022 5:11 pm

Fabulous write up about Broncos Oli . I’ve been enjoying watching Broncos matches for several years now. Both my grandsons have come through Scholars and Academy and are now in 1st Team Its a matter of great pride to me and I am looking forward to what Broncos can achieve in their first season in new home. Come on Broncos you can do it!

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