Leeds Rhinos tie down five first-team squad members as part of major youngster renewal

Aaron Bower
Alfie Edgell of Leeds Rhinos

Leeds Rhinos have handed new deals to 15 members of their academy – including five current members of their first-team squad at AMT Headingley.

The Rhinos insist the news is an emphasis on the club’s significant long-term planning and is a ‘significant investment in the club’s talent’.

Four of that group have already made their Super League debuts. Riley Lumb has penned a new four-year deal, while outside backs Ned McCormack and Alfie Edgell, both of whom played in last weekend’s win over Leigh Leopards, have signed new three-year contracts.

Forward Tom Nicholson-Watton is another who has featured in Super League for Leeds in 2024 already, and he has signed until the end of next season. Ben Littlewood, another member of the Rhinos’ current first-team squad, has agreed a deal until the end of the 2027 campaign.

Commenting on the new deals, Leeds Rhinos Sporting Director Ian Blease said, “Leeds Rhinos has always been proud of its track record of not only developing quality, young talent but also giving opportunities for them to play at the highest level.

“You only need to look at the contribution of Alfie Edgell and Ned McCormack in last week’s win over Leigh to see that continues to be the case. This next generation will be hoping they too can make their mark and follow in the footsteps of fellow Rhinos Ash Handley and Harry Newman who are both academy graduates in the England squad this weekend.

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“On behalf of everyone at the club, I would like to thank all staff who have worked on the development of these young players thus far, their tireless dedication over the years has led up to this commitment by the club along with the support each player has received from his family and community club.”

Leeds Rhinos Head of Youth John Bastian said: “It is a significant commitment by the young Rhinos players and the club. This is a group of talented young men, who cover all positions, and have time to develop in the Super League squad and push hard to compete for a starting position in the team in the years ahead.”

The biggest deal is for promising forward Presley Cassell, who has signed until the end of the 2028 season after agreeing a five-year deal. Half-backs Fergus McCormack, Harry Smith and George Brown have signed four-year deals, as have props Jayemm Oladipupo and Joe Butterfield.

Jacob Stead, Joe Diskin – son of former Rhinos hooker Matt – Harley Thomas and Marcus Qareqare have also signed for four years.

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