Leeds Rhinos have announced that three of the club’s brightest young players have been rewarded for their development with promotion into the first team squad.
Loose forwards Stevie Ward, 17, hooker Liam Hood, 19, and prop Brad Singleton, 18, will all be awarded squad numbers in the top 25 players as the Rhinos look to unearth the next generation of first team players. Singleton made his first team debut last season whilst Ward is set to take on Australia with the England Academy squad in December. Hood recently agreed a four year contract and has trained with the first team squad all last season.
Commenting on the promotions, Head Coach Brian McDermott said, “Leeds Rhinos have a proud history of promoting young talent and we will always look to continue that policy. All three of these players have been highly impressive with their attitude this season and they have earned this reward. Brad Singleton has performed consistently well with the Under 20 squad this season, as has Liam Hood. Liam is highly rated by our Assistant Coach Jimmy Lowes as one of the most exciting young hookers in our game. Stevie Ward was unfortunate last season to suffer from injuries that limited the amount of game time he was able to achieve. However, his attitude to get back fit was exemplary and I am sure he will do the club and his country proud when England Academy take on Australia later in the year.”
Brian McDermott has now completed his review of the first team squad for the 2011 season and will take a well earned rest over the next few weeks before work begins on preparations for the 2012 season. He added, “The review process was very beneficial and gives us the chance to look back on the season as a whole. We are now looking to learn the lessons from last season and make sure that we take steps to improve things for the 2012 campaign.”
Head of Youth Development Barrie McDermott added, “The club’s policy of rewarding young players is something that lies at the heart of our junior recruitment programme. It is great when we speak to young players that we can not only point to people like Rob Burrow and Danny McGuire but also show current examples of how those who work hard behind the scenes get the chance to move on to the next level. The junior clubs and schools in Leeds are doing a fantastic job of nurturing young players and the success at Old Trafford is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the fantastic things that are going on in our city.”