London Broncos suffer huge injury blow ahead of Super League return with fans’ favourite ruled out for season

James Gordon
Bill Leyland, London Broncos

Bill Leyland in action for London Broncos in 2023 - Alamy

London Broncos have been dealt a huge injury blow ahead of the new Super League season with the news that homegrown hooker Bill Leyland is set to miss the whole 2024 campaign with an ACL injury.

Leyland, 20, has been one of the bright lights of a new-look Broncos in recent years and was named the Championship’s Young Player of the Year last season in helping London to an unlikely Grand Final win, beating Featherstone Rovers and Toulouse Olympique away from home on their way to promotion.

They are odds on favourites to finish bottom of Super League in 2024, though with no automatic promotion and relegation in place, their future remains uncertain.

The IMG grading criteria had London placed in a lowly 24th, which has dampened any enthusiasm about their return to the top flight, where they will play at Wimbledon’s Plough Lane in Super League for the first time.

London owner David Hughes recently issued a strongly-worded statement criticising the IMG grading criteria, admitting that it had made him re-think the club’s approach and they scrapped their academy.

Historically criticised for relying on overseas players, London have built a squad of local players proving their contribution to the player pathway, of which Leyland is a stand-out figure.

London Broncos suffer huge injury blow ahead of Super League return with fans’ favourite Bill Leyland ruled out for season

The Maidstone-born player, who plays alongside brother Oli, played for Invicta Panthers as a junior and also spent some time on loan at London Skolars.

He suffered the injury in London’s recent pre-season game against Castleford Tigers, which ended in a 14-14 draw.

Broncos Director of Rugby & Performance Mike Eccles said: “We are devastated to say Bill Leyland is out for the season.

“We are working through that now with the powers that be around the tackle at Castleford. We are just devastated for Bill, I think we all knew internally at the club that he was going to set the competition alight this year.

“It’s important that we get around him as a club, all the boys, all the staff. We’ll give him the best treatment possible, like we do here. The best surgery possible.

“He’s done his ACL and we just have to move on with it and do our best for him.”

The Broncos attracted attention earlier in the off-season for revealing that they will still be retaining some part-time players for the step up to Super League.

However, 90% of the squad are expected to be full-time, with Eccles citing the examples of Lewis Bienek and Dean Parata, who both have careers outside of the game that prevent them going full-time.

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