Castleford lose McLelland to Edinburgh

Edinburgh Rugby Union have signed England Academy ace Callum McLelland from Castleford Tigers.

And McLelland is the first signing of Scotland’s new Scottish Qualified programme, which has replaced the previous Exiles programme. It has broadened the network of scouts across England and abroad to identify players eligible to play for Scotland Rugby Union living outside its borders.

The 18-year-old played Rugby Union up to the age of 13 before deciding to concentrate on Rugby League, representing Castleford Lock Lane amateur club before joining the Tigers Academy.

He captained England Under-16s in Rugby League and represented England Academy in their two-match series against France in October, adding a winning drop-goal in a 19-18 victory in the first Test.

But McLelland has decided to cross codes and he qualifies to play for Scotland through a grandfather, who was born in East Ayrshire.

And Castleford head coach Daryl Powell admitted that he would have liked to keep the stand-off.

He said: “Callum had one year left on his contract and was offered an opportunity with the Scottish SQ programme that he felt he couldn’t turn down.

“We made an offer to retain him but had to accept his wishes on this occasion. Having declined an extension from us, we felt it was best for both Callum and the club that we allowed him to take up this offer.

“We will use the fee that we received for Callum to retain our best young players as this is a huge focus for Castleford Tigers at the moment.

“I would like to wish Callum all the best with this new opportunity.”

Edinburgh boss Richard Cockerhill added: “Callum is a young and gifted stand-off so it will be exciting to see him continue his development as he makes the switch from League into Union.”

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