10th May 2019, 15:52 | Bradford
But, instead of playing for his home-town team in the sixth round of the Coral Challenge Cup at Odsal, Lilley will be aiming to mastermind their exit from the competition as he continues his loan spell with rivals Bradford Bulls.
Lilley, 22, who played for the Rhinos in their 2016 World Club Challenge clash with North Queensland Cowboys, is permitted to face his parent club, who have opted not to take up an option on his contract for 2020.
“I haven’t had much contact with Leeds since I came here so I don’t really know where I stand,” said Lilley.
“It’s a season-long loan at the minute with an option to go back to Leeds, but they’ve told my agent they don’t want me next year.”
Despite the rejection, Lilley says he does not have a point to prove and is simply happy to have regained his love for rugby league under Bradford’s veteran coach John Kear.
“I feel really settled here,” he said. “I live and breathe rugby league, but it got to a point where I thought, ‘Do I want a nine-to-five job instead, because there’s only so many times you can not play’.
“I needed a new lease of life and from the first minute I spoke to John I knew this was going to be a good club to come to.
The derby is back! Be there on Saturday afternoon, kick off 2.30pm, as we take on @OfficialBullsRL in the @TheChallengeCup - tickets still available plus you can pay on the day #RivalryReignited https://t.co/KAzAHygEVv pic.twitter.com/cnX7SuX6or— Leeds Rhinos (@leedsrhinos) May 10, 2019
“The goals and aspirations he has for the club are fantastic and he’s looked after me ever since I came here.
“He comes to talk to me about the games and that’s all you want as a player, the coach to speak to you a bit and give you that confidence.”
The first derby between Bradford and Leeds for five years has been selected by the BBC as the Championship side seek to pull off an upset against the struggling Betfred Super League outfit, who will be coached for the first time by interim boss Richard Agar.
“We’re confident whoever we play,” said Lilley, whose drop goal in extra time helped Bradford beat another of his old clubs, Featherstone, 27-26 in the last round.
“But we’re going to have to be nine out of 10 or even 10 out of 10 to get the job done. We can’t be starting slow like we have done in recent weeks or we’ll be staring down the barrel of a gun.
“I’m looking forward to seeing Odsal packed out. I’ve been here as a Leeds fan in the away end watching Leeds-Bradford derbies.
“It will be a bit weird to play in my first one as a Bradford player, not a Leeds player.
“I always wanted to play in. It gives you goose bumps just listening to some of the past players talking about it.”
🏉This weekend's Coral @TheChallengeCup fixtures!— Coral (@Coral) May 10, 2019
Hull FC v Castleford 📺
Wakefield v Widnes
Dewsbury v Halifax
Salford v Hull KR
Bradford v Leeds 📺
Catalans v Doncaster
Warrington v Wigan 📺
Huddersfield v St Helens 📺 pic.twitter.com/VEsO6Vh1wo
Elsewhere on Saturday, holders Catalans Dragons begin their defence of the trophy at home to League 1 part-timers Doncaster in the first meeting between the clubs and there is an all-Super League clash between Salford Red Devils and Hull KR at the AJ Bell Stadium.
Former Hull KR winger Ken Sio is set to return from injury for the Red Devils for his first match since March, while captain Joel Tomkins returns for the Robins, who cannot play loan signing Antoni Maria because he would be cup-tied for his parent club Catalans.