LEEDS Carnegie begin their RFU Championship play-off campaign on Saturday and one of their breakthrough stars believes that they have a great chance of securing an immediate return to the Aviva Premiership.
Wakefield centre Joe Barker has made a massive impression at Headingley since he broke into the first team earlier in the season and now thinks that his team can go all the way.
Carnegie, relegated from the Premiership last season, make the long trip to Cornish Pirates on Saturday in the first step towards an immediate return to the top flight.
It is a tough start for Leeds, who finished the regular season in sixth and face Bedford Blues and Rotherham Titans in their other pool play-off matches.
However, confidence is high within the Carnegie camp according to Barker, who said: “We have beaten all the other play-off teams at some point this season. The players are focused, confident and desperate to get out onto the pitch and I think we have a big chance.”
The 21 year-old centre cut his teeth at Sandal RUFC and Queen Elizabeth Grammar School (QEGS) before joining Carnegie at the age of 13 and playing under current England boss Stuart Lancaster in his academy at Headingley.
Barker went on to make his debut start for Diccon Edwards’ first team last September when Carnegie defeated Bristol 12-11.
Since then the Wakefield Trinity Wildcats fan has chalked-up 13 starts and three more appearances from the bench to help Carnegie secure a spot in the play-offs.
After the trip to Pirates, Leeds have back-to-back home play-off games against Bedford and Rotherham before travelling to Blues on Saturday, March 31.
A visit to Rotherham Titans on Saturday, April 14, precedes the home clash with Pirates on Saturday, April 21.
Read tomorrow’s Wakefield Express for more on this story and the latest sports news.