Leeds Rhinos: Clarkson will be only loan departure

Gary Hetherington
Gary Hetherington
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CHIEF EXECUTIVE Gary Hetherington says no more of Leeds Rhinos’ senior players will be following forward Chris Clarkson out of the club on loan deals.

Clarkson, 24, will spend next season at First Utility Super League rivals Widnes Vikings, but Hetherington insisted he will be back at Leeds in 2016.

“He is just going there for the year, like we have done in the past for other players,” Hetherington said.

“He will be back with us in 2016. It is a bit of a one-off and there’s no plans for anyone else to go out on loan.”

Clarkson made his Rhinos debut in 2010 and was a Super League Grand Final winner the following year. He has made 118 senior appearances, including 17 this year, but has played just once for Rhinos since the home defeat by Huddersfield Giants in June.

That was in last month’s away defeat at London Broncos and ironically it meant he did not make the appearance on dual-registration which would have qualified him to feature in Hunslet Hawks’ Kingstone Press Championship One play-offs campaign.

Rhinos coach Brian McDermott said: “This is a great opportunity for Chris to play Super League on a regular basis.

“He has been an established member of our first team squad for the past four years, having come through the Academy and this gives him a chance to kick on to the next level.

“He has two years remaining on his contract with the Rhinos and I am sure, working with [coach] Denis Betts at the Vikings, we will get an even better player for the 2016 season after his year at Widnes.”

Betts said: “Firstly we are very grateful to Brian McDermott and the Leeds club for loaning us one of their quality players.

“I’m excited to be working with Chris next season and he’s a player who is going to really enhance our environment.

“He’s coming from a very good culture at Leeds Rhinos where he’s played with some quality players and for such a young guy he’s got so much experience under his belt and that’s going to transfer to us.

“What we are about is building a side which is full of young talented British players and Chris ticks that box for us, but gives us much, much more.

“He’s played in a Grand Final and Challenge Cup finals and he’s worked extremely hard at his game to get international recognition with England Knights.

“We will give Chris more game time next year than perhaps he is getting at the moment and him being a part of our squad allows me to rotate our back-rowers better.

“I know Brian thinks highly of him and by being at Widnes the loan move will allow him to continue that development. I’m delighted to have him on board.”

Clarkson said: “I met Denis a few weeks ago and after speaking with him I knew this was the right club to come to to keep improving.

“Everything is really positive and I’ve been impressed with the way things have gone for them this year. They have finished the season pretty strongly and it’s a credit to the players and the club to how hard they have worked.

“I’m looking forward to going over there as things look good from the outside and it will be great to be involved from the inside next season.

“I’m keen to get there and get some games under my belt. Brian has been really supportive of the move and I come over to Widnes with Leeds right behind me.”

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