29th January 2019, 11:11 | super_league
Mikolaj Oledzki was born in Gdansk and moved to Warsaw at the age of the three, five years later he would move to a different country learning a new language, a new culture and a new way of life.
Before moving to Leeds, Oledzki lived in Corby, Northamptonshire, as his family searched for a better opportunity and a better lifestyle.
In Poland, Oledzki had been brought up with gymnastics, his move to Corby saw him change sport, from the mat to the pool, where he would swim, however, he admitted that he eventually ‘got too big for it, too chunky.’
His move to Leeds came as his father started to miss home, he wanted to be closer to his brother, who was a surgeon in Harrogate, this is where Oledzki found Rugby League.
“I love going back and seeing how everything changes, the older I get, the way I look at Poland is different.
“There’s a lot of culture in Poland, a lot of things happened in the war in Gdansk. There’s a lot of things you can see, a lot of history that has a deep meaning behind it,” said Oledzki.
To move countries at any age is a daunting prospect, at 8-years-old and not speaking English must have been hard for Oledzki but he is grateful for the support he has received.
“I couldn’t speak a word of English when I moved here, I was only eight years old.
“We do a lot of English lessons in Poland but at that point I think the only words I could say were ‘hello my name is Mik’.
“I was lucky enough to get a lot of support from the teachers that I worked with. I ended up getting a translator, and she helped me out.
“When I got to year 7 I kind of cracked the language and started talking broken English, now I’ve got a half Polish, half Yorkshire accent,” admitted Oledzki.
He has become accustomed to the English culture and even admitted that he prefers English roast on Christmas day than a traditional Polish meal.
It’s been quite a journey for the 20-year-old; from Poland, to Corby, to Leeds and a journey with England Knights to Papua New Guinea.
Oledzki said: “You get told what to get ready for, I don’t think you can get ready for that though.
“It was amazing, they live completely different to us and they’re so passionate about Rugby League.
“It’s like a religion to them and it’s great to see how big the fan base is in Papua New Guinea.
“It’s their main sport and they love it. They’re not as fortunate as us, and it’s not as well developed.
“They still live differently to us and it’s crazy to see the difference. They’re still happy so it shows you don’t need everything to be happy.”
Soon after his return from Papua New Guinea, Oledzki signed a deal keeping him under contract at Leeds Rhinos for the next four years: “It was a no-brainer for me, Leeds have given me opportunities, and this is where I became a Rugby League player.
“They believed in me from the start. I got picked up for a scholarship after playing one year of Rugby League so I’m grateful for that.
“All you have to do is look at the stadium and the team to see world class players,” added Oledzki.
The prop will hope to feature in Leeds Rhinos’ round one fixture against 2018 Grand Finalists Warrington Wolves on Saturday (17:15), live on Sky Sports and Sky Sports mix.