Ex-Leeds Rhinos ace, dual-code international makes League 1 move for 2024 following long-term injury nightmare

Ben Olawumi
Callum McLelland

Callum McLelland scores a try for Leeds Rhinos in Rob Burrow's testimonial - Alamy

Following an injury lay-off lasting two seasons, former Leeds Rhinos young gun Callum McLelland has joined League 1 outfit Midlands Hurricanes for 2024, with the club fending off interest from Championship clubs to secure his signature.

Now 24, McLelland has been without a club since June having departed Castleford Tigers after close to two calendar years at The Jungle without making a single appearance.

After rupturing his Patella Tendon, effectively snapping it in half and requiring complex surgery, the half-back was never able to get to a position where he could feature for the Tigers, suffering setbacks along the way.

His injuries blighted what promised to be a story for the rugby league romance books, returning to Cas eight years after first joining from amateur side Lock Lane.

It wasn’t to be however, and now McLelland makes his return to the game with the Hurricanes, who are headed up by former Bradford Bulls boss Mark Dunning.

Ex-Leeds Rhinos ace, dual-code international Callum McLelland makes League 1 move for 2024 following long-term injury nightmare

During his first stint with the Tigers, the starlet featured on the international stage for England at both youth and academy levels before making the move into rugby union in 2017.

In union, he won eight caps for Scotland’s under-20s, before crossing back over into league and signing with Leeds Rhinos.

Making his Super League debut for the Rhinos against Castleford in May 2019, in a season which also saw him feature 12 times for Featherstone Rovers on dual-registration.

The same year, he too earned two caps for Scotland in league, appearing in wins against Serbia and Greece.

By the time McLelland departed Headingley – after another loan spell with Featherstone – he’d featured 16 times for Leeds.

Upon his Castleford exit earlier this year, the playmaker said he would start a new venture outside the sport, but he’s now been handed a route back in, with the Hurricanes confirming his signing via their X account – @HurricanesRLFC – last night.

Midlands Hurricanes confirm signing of Callum McLelland ahead of 2024

Speaking to the club’s media team, McLelland stated just how much he’s relishing the chance to rejuvenate his career, saying: “It’s massive. It’s a big step for me getting back into the game, and I’m looking to build this year.

“I’m excited to be in with a good bunch of lads, and I just want to play as many games as I can. Hopefully I can help the team win more games and have a big push this year.”

Meanwhile, Hurricanes boss Dunning highlighted how much of an asset his new recruit could prove to be, reeling off some of the credentials on McLelland’s CV and admitting the player had the chance to play at a higher level.

Dunning added: “I’ve been speaking to Callum for a few weeks now, and he’s a quality young man. He’s got representative honours in both rugby league and rugby union, he’s been on world tours, played in under-20 Six Nations in union and he was a part of the England Academy team that beat the Aussies 2-0 over here a few years ago.

“Callum’s no mug, he’s played Super League to a high standard, but he’s had his problems over the last 18 months. To see him back in the game is the best and most important thing, and we’ve got a plan for him.

“The big thing for me is that he’s turned top-quality, big Championship clubs down to come here because he’s bought into the vision and the project that we’ve got.”

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