The academies that have produced the most Super League players in 2024 with Wigan Warriors on top

Ben Olawumi
'Most Productive Super League Academies in 2024', Liam Farrell, Mikey Lewis, Lewis Dodd

Wigan Warriors captain Liam Farrell (left), Hull KR's Mikey Lewis (right) & St Helens' Lewis Dodd (centre) are all academy products of those respective clubs

Rugby league’s academy system remains a major talking point in 2024. Some Super League clubs do not even possess elite academy licences, while others continue to dominate the landscape of the junior scene in the sport.

The margin by which some clubs dominate in terms of youth development is only evidenced further with a deep dive into where the players in Super League this season came through.

Hundreds of players have already played at least one Super League game in 2024, and here, they have been grouped off into which academy they spent the majority of their time in when they were cutting their teeth in the game.

As you’ll see below, the results really do make for fascinating reading. Certain clubs dominate, as you’d expect, with others falling behind in the pecking order.

Note 1: When a player has spent time in more than one academy during their development, we’ve made the best attempt to group them with the club whom they spent the most time with. Extra significance has also been placed upon the club which some players made their senior debut with.

Note 2: For those who came through the City of Hull Academy, which ran from 2016 to 2019, priority has been given to either Hull FC or Hull KR based on which the club a player made their first-team debut for.

RELATED: Ranking every Super League club by number of academy products fielded in 2024

Trio lead the way

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the trio of St Helens, Leeds Rhinos and Wigan Warriors lead the way in terms of academy products in Super League.

Jack Welsby St Helens Alamy
Jack Welsby scoring a try for St Helens in 2024

Saints in third have – so far – had 22 of their products feature in Super League so far this year. At least eight of those are first-choice for Paul Wellens at the Totally Wicked Stadium, including the likes of Jack Welsby & captain Jonny Lomax.

Red V junior Adam Swift continues to score tries for fun at Huddersfield Giants while powerhouse Luke Thompson now dons a Wigan shirt having returned from the NRL, with that pair two of 11 former Saints academy players now elsewhere in Super League.

Ahead of them in second are Leeds, who have had 11 academy products feature in their side already this year. Cameron Smith is now the club’s captain, with plenty of promising youngsters coming through including Ned McCormack.

The Rhinos have a whopping 16 academy graduates playing for another Super League club at present, with names on that list including stalwarts Kallum Watkins and Paul McShane.

And leading the way – by some distance – as you’d probably expect are Wigan. The Cherry & Whites have seen 34 of their academy products take to the field in a Super League game in 2024, with 21 of those donning another side’s shirt! That figure is actually 22 of 34 if you include Harvey Makin, who awaits his Warriors debut but is currently on loan at London Broncos.

Fellow academy aces Jack Farrimond and Tom Forber have debuted this year for Matt Peet’s side, with Liam Farrell and Liam Marshall still in the team all these years on from their progression through the club’s junior ranks. Sam Powell and Joe Shorrocks are among the talent they let go in the off-season just gone, moving on to Warrington Wolves & Salford Red Devils respectively.

READ NEXT: Access all areas inside the world-famous Wigan Warriors academy shaping the stars of the future

It’s also worth noting that Hull FC – who occupy 4th spot in the ranking with 20 – have actually had the biggest number of academy products play for them in 2024.

Jack Charles
Hull FC’s Jack Charles

16 Airlie Birds juniors have made at least one Super League appearance for the club this year, with many fast-tracked out of necessity with suspensions and injuries to more senior figures. A bit of positivity for FC fans to cling on to in what has been a year of woe so far.

The clubs struggling

Leigh Leopards are still without an elite academy licence, though the expectation is that will change as we approach 2025. The Leythers have set up a reserves side now, and are fielding a team at that level bi-weekly including off-season signings Jack Darbyshire & Kavan Rothwell.

But, for now at least, the Leopards prop up these rankings with just two academy products involved in Super League to date this year – one is Frankie Halton, who returned to the club last year from Hull KR, and the other is Chris Hill. Veteran Hill, now with Huddersfield, debuted for Leigh in Super League in 2005!

Other low ranking sides include KR (5) and Salford (7). KR’s only academy product still playing for them at the moment is Mikey Lewis. Youngster Leo Tennison will likely join him soon, but has not played a league game for the Robins yet in 2024. Dean Hadley and Jez Litten‘s youth was spent across the city at Hull FC.

When Salford re-signed Chris Hankinson, that doubled their academy product tally – now with two in their squad. Marc Sneyd is the other having progressed through their system many moons ago. Five other Red Devils juniors are elsewhere in Super League, including Frenchman Theo Fages and Warrington stalwart Stefan Ratchford.

RELATED: Exclusive – Leigh Leopards owner Derek Beaumont reveals all on club’s failed academy licence application

Capital gains

Having been promoted with virtually a full squad of talent from the south of the country, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that London have a relatively good number of homegrown stars in their squad.

Sadiq Adebiyi, Konrad Hurrell
London Broncos’ Sadiq Adebiyi (left) tackles St Helens’ Konrad Hurrell (right) in Round 1 of the 2024 Super League season

Boss Mike Eccles, who hails from Leigh, has stuck with locals in SW17, bringing the likes of Sadiq Adebiyi and James Meadows back to the club in the off-season following their promotion. Those two make up part of 11 Broncos academy products still with the club.

It would have been 13 but for long-term injuries to both Bill Leyland and Alex Waker before the start of the campaign.

Instead, the tally of London academy products to have featured in Super League so far this year stands at 14, with three of those plying their trade elsewhere including Catalans Dragons‘ England international Mike McMeeken.

READ NEXT: Mike Eccles determined to deliver London vision despite Super League odds being stacked against Broncos

Ranked: The academies that have produced the most – and fewest – Super League players in 2024

12. Leigh Leopards – 2

Still with club (1): Frankie Halton

Playing elsewhere (1): Chris Hill

11. Hull KR – 5

Mikey Lewis Hull KR Alamy
Hull KR’s Mikey Lewis celebrates a win in 2024

Still with club (1): Mikey Lewis

Playing elsewhere (4): Joe Cator, George Lawler, Elliot Wallis, Will Tate

10. Salford Red Devils – 7

Still with club (2): Marc Sneyd, Chris Hankinson

Playing elsewhere (5): Jake Bibby, Theo Fages, Luis Roberts, Stefan Ratchford, Niall Evalds

RELATED: Inside the whirlwind 48 hours of Hull FC’s pursuit of Salford Red Devils coach Paul Rowley

9. Huddersfield Giants – 13

Still with club (8): Olly Russell, Jake Connor, Matty English, Leroy Cudjoe, Innes Senior, Sam Hewitt, Fenton Rogers, Kieran Rush

Playing elsewhere (5): Darnell McIntosh, Louis Senior, Sam Wood, Kruise Leeming, Jake Wardle

8. Catalans Dragons – 14

Alrix Da Costa Catalans Dragons Alamy
Alrix Da Costa in action for Catalans Dragons in 2024

Still with club (10): Arthur Mourgue, Mathieu Laguerre, Paul Seguier, Alrix Da Costa, Cesar Rouge, Arthur Romano, Jordan Dezaria, Bastien Scimone, Franck Maria, Ugo Tison

Playing elsewhere (4): Tanguy Zenon, Fouad Yaha, Hugo Salabio, Tiaki Chan

Castleford Tigers – 14

Still with club (9): Joe Westerman, Adam Milner, Cain Robb, Brad Martin, Sam Hall, Jason Qareqare, Liam Watts, Luis Johnson, George Hill

Playing elsewhere (5): Ryan Brierley, Daryl Clark, Ben Reynolds, Oliver Holmes, Robbie Storey

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=6. London Broncos – 16

Still with club (11): Rob Butler, Jacob Jones, Sadiq Adebiyi, Sam Davis, Dan Hoyes, Oli Leyland, Will Lovell, Iliess Macani, James Meadows, Marcus Stock, Alex Walker, Gideon Boafo, Lewis Bienek.

Playing elsewhere (3): Mike McMeeken, Matt Davis, Josh Hodson

=6. Warrington Wolves – 16

Still with club (10): Josh Thewlis, Ben Currie, Joe Philbin, Connor Wrench, Tom Whitehead, Adam Holroyd, Leon Hayes, Arron Lindop, Max Wood, Toby King

Playing elsewhere (6): Harvey Livett, Brad Dwyer, George King, Morgan Smith, Mike Cooper, Gareth O’Brien

4. Hull FC – 20

Tom Briscoe
A fresh-faced Tom Briscoe in action for Hull FC during his debut season in 2008

Still with club (16): Danny Houghton, Jordan Lane, Brad Fash, Jack Brown, Davy Litten, Will Gardiner, Denive Balmforth, Harvey Barron, Tom Briscoe, Jack Charles, Zach Jebson, Matty Laidlaw, Lewis Martin, Logan Moy, Charlie Severs, Nick Staveley

Playing elsewhere (4): Jordan Abdull, Jez Litten, Dean Hadley, Ben McNamara

RELATED: Ranking Super League clubs by number of players used in 2024 – Hull FC out on their own at top of table

3. St Helens – 22

Still with club (11): Jack Welsby, Tommy Makinson, Mark Percival, Jon Bennison, Jonny Lomax, Lewis Dodd, Matty Lees, Morgan Knowles, Jake Wingfield, Ben Davies, George Delaney

Playing elsewhere (11): Joe Greenwood, Jack Ashworth, Adam Swift, Andrew Dixon, Deon Cross, Lewis Baxter, Matty Foster, Dan Norman, Danny Richardson, Josh Simm, Luke Thompson

2. Leeds Rhinos – 27

Still with club (11): Harry Newman, Ash Handley, Mikolaj Oledzki, Cameron Smith, Jarrod O’Connor, Tom Holroyd, Corey Johnson, Alfie Edgell, Ned McCormack, Tom Nicholson-Watton, Riley Lumb

Playing elsewhere (16): Ashton Golding, Owen Trout, Liam Sutcliffe, Jack Walker, Ryan Hall, Elliot Minchella, Corey Hall, Kallum Watkins, Tyler Dupree, Brad Singleton, Paul McShane, Jack Broadbent, Muizz Mustapha, Robbie Mulhern, Kai Morgan, Liam Tindall

1. Wigan Warriors – 35

Liam Marshall Wigan Warriors Alamy
Wigan Warriors winger Liam Marshall celebrates their 2024 World Cub Challenge triumph

Still with club (13): Liam Marshall, Harry Smith, Liam Byrne, Liam Farrell, Ethan Havard, Brad O’Neill, Harvie Hill, Junior Nsemba, Ryan Hampshire, Zach Eckersley, Jack Farrimond, Tom Forber, Harvey Makin

Playing elsewhere (21): Harry Rushton, Sam Halsall, James McDonnell, Joe Burgess, Andy Ackers, Oliver Partington, Amir Bourouh, George Williams, Matty Nicholson, Joe Bullock, Matty Russell, Tom Davies, Michael McIlorum, Josh Charnley, Joe Mellor, Jack Hughes, Umyla Hanley, Oliver Gildart, Samy Kibula, Sam Powell, Joe Shorrocks, Jack Bibby.

RELATED: Inside Wigan’s conveyor belt of homegrown talent as Warriors continue to promote from within

The players produced by current non-Super League clubs

As far as we could work out, there are eight clubs currently outside of Super League who have provided top-flight stars this term.

In the Championship, French outfit Toulouse Olympique and Sheffield Eagles have each produced one current Super League ace, while League 1 sides North Wales Crusaders & Newcastle Thunder each have their name against a single talent too.

Between them, Featherstone Rovers and Widnes Vikings have produced seven top-flight players from this year, while newly-relegated Wakefield Trinity have produced seven alone.

Trinity’s septet includes Catalans winger Tom Johnstone, who is rumoured to be returning to Belle Vue in 2025, and fellow flier Lee Kershaw who is now with London having departed following Wakefield’s relegation last season.

James Donaldson, Bradford Bulls, Leeds Rhinos
James Donaldson in action for Bradford Bulls against Leeds Rhinos in 2010

But by far and away the biggest non-Super League talent producer continues to be Bradford, despite the Bulls approaching a decade outside of the top flight.

STATISTICS: Top try, goal & points scorers in Super League, Championship & League 1

12 graduates of the academy setup at Odsal have appeared at least once in Super League so far in 2024. There are some on the list towards the younger end of the scale like Reiss Butterworth (Hull KR) and Cameron Scott (Hull FC), but the majority are now over the age of 25.

Those include Warrington powerhouse James Harrison, Leeds ace James Bentley and Salford winger Ethan Ryan.

The full list of Super League players to have been produced by academies outside of clubs currently outside of the top flight is below…

8. Toulouse Olympique – 1

Justin Sangare

RELATED: Meet Joe Bretherton – the Wiganer who has made himself at home in France with Toulouse

= Sheffield Eagles – 1

Joe Batchelor

= North Wales Crusaders – 1

Gil Dudson
Gil Dudson in action for Crusaders in 2011

Gil Dudson

= Newcastle Thunder – 1

Sam Luckley

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4. Featherstone Rovers – 2

Zak Hardaker, Jack Ormondroyd

3. Widnes Vikings – 5

Chris Atkin, Adam Sidlow, Danny Walker, Matt Whitley, Ed Chamberlain

2. Wakefield Trinity – 7

Lee Kershaw scores against Leigh
Lee Kershaw breaks away to score for Wakefield Trinity against Leigh Leopards in Round 26 of the 2023 Super League season

James Batchelor, Yusuf Aydin, Leon Ruan, Tom Johnstone, Jordan Crowther, Lee Kershaw, Sam Eseh

1. Bradford Bulls – 12

Oliver Wilson, Cameron Scott, Ethan Ryan, Matty Storton, Rowan Milnes, James Bentley, Luke Hooley, James Donaldson, Ben Hellewell, James Harrison, Alex Mellor, Reiss Butterworth

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