Young hooker Corey Johnson rejoins Leeds Rhinos: Former England academy star is loaned to York City Knights along with centre Corey Hall

Former England academy hooker Corey Johnson has rejoined Leeds Rhinos, 16 months after “retiring” from professional rugby league.
Corey Johnson played for Leeds in the 2019 Boxing Day game against Wakefield. Picture by Steve Riding.Corey Johnson played for Leeds in the 2019 Boxing Day game against Wakefield. Picture by Steve Riding.
Corey Johnson played for Leeds in the 2019 Boxing Day game against Wakefield. Picture by Steve Riding.

The 20-year-old has immediately been loaned to Betfred Championship side York City Knights, along with Rhinos’ teenage centre Corey Hall.

First team squad member Levi Edwards has joined Batley Byulldogs on loan, alongside academy players Oli Burton and Oli Field.

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Johnson played for England academy in their Test series win over Australian Schoolboys at the end of 2018 and made his Rhinos debut in their final match of the following year’s Super League campaign.

Corey Hall. Picture by Tony Johnson.Corey Hall. Picture by Tony Johnson.
Corey Hall. Picture by Tony Johnson.

He was expected to press for a regular place in the team last season, but announced his retirement in March, 2020, to focus on a “career outside rugby league”.

The Yorkshire Evening Post revealed in May Johnson was back in the game, playing as an amateur for National Conference outfit Hunslet Club Parkside.

He is now back on Rhinos’ books, but will spend the rest of this season at York as he readjusts back to the professional code.

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Rhinos director of rugby Kevin Sinfield said: “We are pleased to welcome Corey Johnson back to the club.

"We have stayed in touch with him over the last year and he was aware that the door was always open for him to return when he was ready to.

"The chance to play and train part time with York is a great way for him to return to professional rugby league."

Johnson said: “Obviously, York are a great club with a great set of players.

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“When speaking to Fordy [coach James Ford] it seemed like the perfect fit for me personally and a great opportunity for me to start back my journey to what I want to achieve in the sport, so I couldn’t pass it up.”

Ford worked with Johnson at England academy level and described him as “a very talented hooker with good deception, running game and support play”.

Hall, 18, is also an England academy player.

He joined Rhinos from Wigan Warriors ahead of the 2020 season and made his Super League debut that year.

He has also featured this term and Ford said: “Corey is a talented three quarter who has the potential to make a significant impact on our performances.

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“He is another player who represented England academy and I’m excited to work with him again.”

Hall added: “I’m hoping to get the game experience I want to progress in my career at a young age and to do the best I can for York.”

Sinfield said Rhinos are keen for Hall and 17-year-old Edwards to play at first team level.

Burton made his senior debut for Batley last week, in a Championship defeat at Bradford Bulls.

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"We are pleased to give Corey Hall and Levi Edwards, in particular, the chance to play Championship rugby after impressing with the first team in training this year," he confirmed.

"They have both played for the under-19s but, in terms of their development, the loan system allows them to continue their progress."

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