Cross and Burgess request release

Leeds Rhinos have granted a release request by props Ben Cross and Luke Burgess so they can speak to other clubs as they bid to secure first team rugby.

32-year-old Cross joined the Rhinos from Newcastle Knights in the close season, but has not featured for the Yorkshire outfit since their win at Castleford in April.

Burgess, 24, is a product of the Rhinos academy system and has made 93 appearances since making his debut in 2008, although has missed the last four outings.

Chief Executive Gary Hetherington commented “Both Luke and Ben have asked the club to be released from the remainder of their contract. Luke is out of contract at the end of the season and he has indicated that his intention is to move to Australia and play in the NRL.

“Both have become frustrated that they have not been unable to force their way into the side given the outstanding form of other players in their position and feel the need to move to pastures new to gain first team rugby. 

“Luke will be available on loan for the remainder of the season subject to us being able to recall him should injuries to the squad occur, similar to the arrangements we already have in place for Kyle Amor at Wakefield and Luke Ambler at Harlequins.

“We have agreed with Ben’s manager that he can talk to other clubs regarding his availability and if he is able to find a club we will agree to his release. If he is unable to conclude a deal with another club, Ben is happy to remain at the Rhinos and fight for his place.”

Head Coach Brian McDermott stated “It is always disappointing to lose players from your squad but that is the nature of professional sport. It is unfortunate for Ben that he finds himself behind four props who are playing very well and with Jamie Peacock returning from his serious injury sooner and in better shape that we hope for at the end of last season, his chances are limited.”

McDermott also commented on the professionalism that Ben Cross has shown since arriving at the club “A player of his standing in the game, clearly needs game time. Ben has been the ultimate professional despite the obvious frustrations of being unable to break into the first team after arriving at the club and his conduct throughout has been an example to our young players.” Commenting on Burgess, McDermott added “Luke has had a fine career at Leeds but he has now come to the decision that he wishes to leave. His demands to leave are based on his desire to play first team rugby on a weekly basis which we are unable to offer him at this present time.

“Whilst this may not be ideal for the squad depth we will never hold a player to the club if they no longer wish to be here and we thank him for his services to the Rhinos down the years, which has included a winning Grand Final in 2009.”

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