FEATHERSTONE COACH Jon Sharp says he “totally understands” Leeds Rhinos’ decision to loan players to Rovers’ league rivals Bradford Bulls.
Rhinos half-back Jordan Lilley, hooker Sam Hallas, second-rower Josh Jordan-Roberts and prop Mikolaj Oledzki have all joined Bulls on an initial one-month deal and are available for Sunday’s Kingstone Press Championship opener at Hull KR.
The loans – particularly of Lilley, who made 24 appearances for Rhinos last year and also played three times on dual-registration with Rovers – will strengthen Bulls, who this week announced a squad of just 20 signed-on players.
Rovers – who visit Halifax in Championship round one this weekend – have a dual-registration agreement with Rhinos, but Sharp insisted their noses have not been put out of joint by the move.
He said: “First and foremost, we have a really healthy and positive relationship with Leeds and we feel the benefit of that every week.
“Coming into the game against Halifax we will see some dual-reg’ players running out with us.
“With regards to the loan of four players to Bradford, I think the talking point is Jordan Lilley and what happens with him.
“For me, I totally understand it. I understand the philosophy behind it and I think the good will from [Rhinos chief executive] Gary Hetherington is plain to see.”
Sharp added: “Gary has always been an advocate of a strong game and been very supportive of some of the weaker clubs, which is not being disrespectful to Bradford. I get it, I fully understand that it’s an outstanding opportunity for some of the players who’ve gone there and for Jordan it is chance to play some first team football, which I think he needs.
Meanwhile, Rovers forward Frankie Mariano has been charged with grade B dangerous contact on Rhinos’ Jimmy Keinhorst in the sixth minute of last Friday’s pre-season game.
The disciplinary panel meets next Tuesday, but Mariano is eligible to submit an early guilty plea which would mean a one-game ban. An RFL spokesman said he is available for Sunday’s match.
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