OUT-OF-FAVOUR props Luke Burgess and Ben Cross have been told they can leave Leeds Rhinos.
Rhinos have informed rival clubs Burgess is available on loan until his contract expires this autumn.
Aussie Cross – who joined in the off-season on a two-year deal – will be released.
Burgess has not played since a substitute appearance against Catalan Dragons on May 13.
Cross’ last game for Leeds was two weeks earlier, away to Castleford Tigers. He has made just one start and played nine times off the bench.
A member of Rhinos’ 2009 Grand Final winning side, Burgess came through Leeds’ academy ranks and has made 81 appearances for the club, all but 11 as a substitute.
“Luke is upset he has not been in the team,” Rhinos chief executive Gary Hetherington said. “He made it known he is not happy and, as a result, he wanted to go somewhere else.
“We have therefore agreed to make him available to go out on loan until the end of the season to another Super League club, but with an option to recall him if he is required for our first team due to an injury crisis.
“We’ve got Luke Ambler (Harlequins) and Kyle Amor (Wakefield) both out on loan, but they are cup tied.
“We consider that to be a pretty fair response. I know the coaching staff are very disappointed with Luke’s reaction to being left out and, as a result, this is how we are prepared to deal with it.” Burgess, 24, was not seen as part of coach Brian McDermott’s long-term plans due to his desire to play in Australia’s NRL, alongside youngster brothers Sam and George.
“We have always known he is ambitious to go to the NRL next year,” Hetherington added.
“We have absolutely no problem with that, he would leave with our best wishes.
“I spoke to him at the start of the season and we discussed his short and long-term future.
“He made plain his desire to go to Australia, so we have always been planning to be without him in the longer-term.”
Bradford Bulls, Wakefield Trinity Wildcats and Castleford Tigers are likely to lead interest in Burgess.
Hetherington said Cross is also “agitated” at being out of the side, though he praised the 32-year-old former Newcastle Knights man’s attitude.
“He has been a model professional,” said the Leeds chief.
“I empathise with his frustration, which has been caused in part by Jamie Peacock’s earlier than expected return to the first team and the outstanding form of some of our other front-row forwards.
“Ben doesn’t have youth on his side and he needs to be playing, so we will allow him to move on and fulfil his ambitions elsewhere.”
Of Burgess, coach McDermott said: “We are disappointed Luke wants to leave, but his desire to play every single week is not realistic at Leeds Rhinos at his stage of his career.”
The boss added: “Ben Cross has been a pleasure to coach. At no stage has the situation of him not playing been a problem on a professional level.
“His conduct and the way he has carried himself is something he should be proud of.”
Meanwhile, Rhinos forward Weller Hauraki is set to face his former team-mates at Crusaders tomorrow night as McDermott’s side head to Wrexham.
Hauraki has earned a recall after an impressive try scoring appearance off the bench in last Sunday’s win over Hull KR.
McDermott has retained all of the starting 17 from the Robins clash, with Ali Lauitiiti and Chris Clarkson also earning call-ups to the 19 after strong showings in the 9s competition at Hull on Tuesday night.
Finally, five members of the Rhinos U20 squad have gone on loan to gain experience in the Championship over the next month.
Jake Normington and George Elliott, who made his first team debut this season, are set to join Keighley Cougars, while Danny Bravo and Callum Casey will be joining Oldham.
Centre Michael Coady has agreed a dual registration with Doncaster.