LEEDS RHINOS will consider sending players out on loan to aid ailing Super League rivals London Broncos, coach Brian McDermott has confirmed.
Broncos – who will provide the opposition in Rhinos veteran Ryan Bailey’s testimonial game next month – have confirmed they will fulfil their 2014 fixtures, despite having only 12 players signed on with less than two months to go until their opening game.
A two-year ground-sharing agreement with non league football club Barnet saved Broncos from going into administration, but they face a race against time to put together a new side after the departure of 16 members of last season’s squad.
Assistant-coach Sean Long – who had a spell as team manager at Featherstone Rovers this year – is working on recruitment and expects to announce a number of signings from overseas.
Broncos are also looking at bringing in players from Bradford Bulls, who face having to lose members of their existing squad due to their own cash crisis.
And the London outfit hope to add players on loan from other Super League clubs, with McDermott confirming Leeds could be willing to help out.
McDermott – who coached the then-Harlequins from 2006-2010 – said: “It is something we may be prepared to do, but we are not making a decision just yet.
“Every man who has been training with us has a chance of playing first team.
“If you look at players such as Liam Sutcliffe and Alex Foster and the way they played last year, I am not going to rule them out at this stage by saying ‘you are on a season-long loan somewhere else’.
“We will get past Boxing Day and get back into training and we’ll have a look and review things and assess where everybody’s at.
“But in principle we would be prepared to loan players out.”
Several members of Rhinos’ current senior squad had loan spells elsewhere earlier in their career, including Ben Jones-Bishop who spent a year at Harlequins under McDermott.
The Leeds boss sees the loan system as a way of giving fringe players first-team experience, but he added: “It works both ways. It certainly works for the player, because if they can get Super League experience it is great for them.
“And obviously it helps the club as well.”
One player likely to go out on loan next term is centre Jimmy Keinhorst, who is set to join Wakefield Trinity Wildcats on a season-long deal. Both Keinhorst and Stevie Ward are recovering from a serious shoulder injury and will not be risked in Thursday’s Heatshot Festive Challenge against Wakefield.
But McDermott said: “They are not that far off.
“They will be ready for the start of the season, but where there’s an element of risk it is just not worth taking in the Boxing Day game.”
Under-19s winger Ash Handley is the only member of Thursday’s starting line-up without a senior appearance under his belt, but McDermott said several youngsters will get an opportunity off the bench.
Foster is likely to feature, along with England academy squad members Robbie Ward, Elliot Minchella and George Milton, plus Ben White and Rob Mulhern.