Newcastle Thunder have strengthened their squad ahead of Sunday’s home showdown with Whitehaven.

Leeds Rhinos’ back-row forward Muizz Mustapha has joined the north-east club on a month-long loan.

It’s what Haven coach Gary Charlton expected from a club who were being tipped for success this season before a ball was kicked.

He said: “They have a bit of money after the link up with the Falcons and are clearly going for it over the second half of the season.

“They brought a lad in from York who had played in Australia and have Matthew Wright, a Samoan international coming at the end of the month. I imagine they will be one of the most successful teams over the second half of the season.”

Latest arrival, Nigerian born Mustapha, moved to Leeds when he was five and was encouraged by his primary school head teacher to give rugby league a go.

He was later picked up by the amateur club Hunslet Warriors and subsequently showed enough potential to be snapped up by Leeds Rhinos where he made 12 appearances off the bench for the Academy side in his first season.

Mustapha, who made his debut for Leeds in the 78-6 victory against Workington in The Challenge Cup, had a spell on loan with Featherstone in the Championship last season and has also spent time at Dewsbury this year.

He made 18 appearances for the Rhinos Under-19 side last season as they reached the Academy Grand Final, scoring two tries. He followed that up with appearances in both Test wins against Australia and he admits he is enjoying his debut season in the first team squad.