LEEDS RHINOS have confirmed their under-19 academy squad for 2015.
The 25-strong group includes eight under-17s and 12 who are under-18, with the rest being in their final year at academy level.
Departures from last season’s academy squad are Brad England, who has joined Salford Red Devils, Ben White (now at Swinton Lions), Jordan Harper (Featherstone Rovers), Matty Stableford (on trial at Bradford Bulls) and Dan Grange (returned to rugby union).
Rhinos’ youngsters will begin preparations for next season when they take on a touring Australian Secondary Schools side at Headingley Carnegie on Tuesday, December 2 (7pm).
Head of youth development Simon Bell said: “That will be a great test for us and a good benchmark for the progress we are making in pre-season.
“When you look at the history of the Australian Schoolboys sides, some of the great names of our game have played for that team down the years. The current squad includes the younger brother of current Kangaroo Michael Jennings and the son of former prop Paul Sironen.”
Challenge Cup winner Liam Sutcliffe could feature against the Aussies, alongside former academy forwards Jordan Baldwinson and Mason Tonks, who are due to join Featherstone Rovers on one-year deals the following day.
They have been training with Rhinos’ first team after returning from stints at New Zealand Warriors and Bradford Bulls.
Bell added: “The average age of our matchday squad last season was 17.6 and we will probably be under 18 again this year.
“Rob Burrow and Carl Ablett, who coached last season’s under-16s, speak highly of the prospects for those lads, plus we are always keen to give players who missed out originally on the scholarship pathway the chance to show they can make it.
“Jack Norfolk is a great example – he was on Salford’s Scholarship, but he is a Leeds lad and we spotted him playing for East Leeds Under-17s last season. He came in at the back end of the year and made such an impression he earned a contract for next season,”
Leeds Rhinos’ academy squad for 2015 is: Harry Boyes, Ben Brady, Charlie Brown, Harvey Hallas, Ryan Jones, Josh Jordan-Roberts, Conner Sunderland, Jack Wray (all under-17), Nathan Barker, Thomas Brierley, Nyle Flynn, Ashton Golding, Sam Hallas, Danny Halmshaw, Jonny Holmes, Jordan Lilley, Billy McDermott, Jack Norfolk, Joe Sanderson, Matty While (all u-18), Ben Frankland, Ash Handley, George Milton, Elliot Minchella, Robbie Ward (all u-19).