HOT PROSPECT Ryan Brierley’s hopes of joining Leeds Rhinos have been blocked.
The Yorkshire Evening Post understands Brierley, 22, has asked his club Leigh Centurions for a transfer to Leeds, but was turned down. The former Castleford Tigers academy half-back scored 36 tries in the 2014 regular season and was named Kingstone Press Championship young player of the year.
The youngster is regarded as one of the top talents outside First Utility Super League and his footwork, pace and support play were a crucial ingredient in an incredible season which saw Leigh lose just twice in all competitions.
One of those defeats was 25-12 at Leeds in a Carnegie Challenge Cup quarter-final in June, when Brierley lined-up at scrum-half.
Rhinos had another chance to see Brierley in action when Leigh clinched the Championship title with a 36-12 victory over Featherstone Rovers in last month’s Grand Final at Headingley Carnegie.
Brierley is ambitious to play for an elite club and keen to join Leeds, but his current employers are unwilling to let him leave.
Rhinos could be willing to pay a fee for a player they see as a long-term successor to veteran halves Danny McGuire and Rob Burrow, but will be unable to pursue their interest unless Leigh grant them permission to speak to Brierley. At this stage, that seems unlikely with the Championship big-guns insisting he is not for sale.
“Ryan Brierley is contracted to Leigh until 2016,” Centurions head of rugby Derek Beaumont told the Yorkshire Evening Post.
“Someone from Leeds contacted Ryan and his agent, even though he is contracted to ourselves.
“I met with Gary Hetherington [Rhinos’ chief executive] at the Scotland versus France game at Galashiels last Friday and Gary confirmed that Leeds have no interest in signing Ryan Brierley.
“I gave Gary my mobile phone number and if there’s any interest in the future by Leeds Rhinos in any of our players Gary will contact me directly in the first instance.”
Beaumont added: “Leigh have not had a formal offer from Leeds Rhinos, nor would we welcome one.
“Ryan Brierley will be staying at Leigh for the duration of his contract. He is not for sale.”
Hetherington has said he hopes to have Rhinos’ 2015 squad completed next week.