LEEDS RHINOS have underlined their backing for rugby league’s controversial dual-registration arrangement.
The system allows players at one club to also turn out for another in a different division.
Unlike a loan deal, there is no minimum time period and players can switch between clubs on a week-to-week basis.
Rhinos had a partnership with Hunslet when the south Leeds club were in the Kingstone Press Championship, but dual-registered players with Featherstone Rovers last season.
They have confirmed that will continue in 2017 and coach Brian McDermott insisted it will benefit all parties. He said: “As a club we have often stated our support for the RFL’s dual-registration initiative.
“It worked well last year and we have looked at ways to develop that relationship for the benefit of both clubs. We will be hosting Rovers at Kirkstall on a few evenings during the season and have offered the chance for a handful of their players, who do not have other jobs during the day, to come down and train with us to develop their skills and fitness.”
Opponents of dual-registration say it disrupts the lower-division clubs and reduces opportunities for their own players. They also claim Super League outfits should run reserve teams to give their fringe players game time.
But McDermott added: “I think it was telling how much enjoyment and satisfaction players like Jordan Lilley, Ashton Golding and Josh Walters got from their time at Rovers last season and playing a part in achieving their place in the Qualifers.
“The players enjoyed working with Jon Sharp and his coaching team and really benefited from spending time in the excellent environment that Jon has created at Rovers.
“Jon could not speak highly enough of the conduct of all our players both on and off the field and that means a lot to us as an organisation.
“The whole purpose of the dual-registration process is to benefit our young players and develop their talent and I think ourselves and Featherstone are fully committed to giving our young people the best chances of fulfilling their potential.”
Rovers’ new chief executive Davide Longo had a spell working for the Leeds Rhinos Foundation. He said: “Working in partnership with Leeds Rhinos under the dual-registration initiative is great for both clubs, sponsors and supporters.
“The obvious benefits such as the inter-club coaching and player pathway are working really well and the wider support provided by Leeds Rhinos Foundation under the Sky Try Initiative is extremely beneficial for our own foundation at Featherstone Rovers.
“We’re looking forward to a great relationship in 2017 with Leeds Rhinos and believe Featherstone Rovers are becoming one of the strongest teams on and off the field outside of Super League.”
Rhinos will travel to Big Fellas Stadium to face Rovers in a pre-season game on Friday, January 27.