LEEDS RHINOS have yet to decide whether to recall their dual-registration players or let them finish the season with Hunslet Hawks.
The new Super-8s, Qualifiers and Championship Shield leagues are due to start next month and once a player has appeared in one of those competitions, he will be “club tied” and prevented from playing for any other club.
That means Rhinos players who turn out for Hawks on dual-registration in the Championship Shield will be unable to feature for Leeds until next season.
Robbie Mulhern, Andy Yates, Jordan Lilley, Josh Walters, Robbie Ward and Jimmy Keinhorst have all played more than three games for Hawks, which makes them eligible for their Championship Shield campaign.
But they have also played for Rhinos this year and the latter three were in the team which beat Salford Red Devils last weekend. If Rhinos allow them to continue at Hawks they could be left short-handed if injuries strike, but recalling them would weaken Hunslet’s battle to avoid relegation.
Rhinos chief executive Gary Hetherington said: “I am due to meet Brian [McDermott, Rhinos’ coach] this week and we’ll see where we are with things. No decision has been made yet.”
Ward, who made his second appearance of the season for Rhinos when he came off the bench last Friday, said he will be “happy either way”.
He is out of contract at the end of this year and said: “We have spoken about it [a new deal], but I don’t know what’s happening yet.
“I am hoping to stay at Leeds, but whether the offer comes, I will have to wait and see.
“I have been training full-time this year so I have learned a lot. I have done a full season, as well as a pre-season.
“Last year I joined halfway through and I literally got thrown in there. This year I have been training all the way through and just being around the first-team players has been good for me. It has been really helpful. I have learned so much from Rob [Burrow] and Paulie [Aiton].”
Ward made seven appearances last term and was the Yorkshire Evening Post’s Shooting Star. He added: “I’ve not played much this year, because of injuries. I think they’ve played a big part and so has the form of Paul Aiton. He has been playing really well so it has been tough for me, because I am behind Rob and Paulie.”
Ward insisted his spell with Hunslet has improved his game. “I don’t think we’ve achieved what we really wanted to this year,” he said of Hawks, who are second from bottom in the Kingstone Press Championship. “But it has been good for me, playing in a different team, with different players around me.
“The difference from the 19s to the Championship is massive, I think. The Championship is a lot harder, with me being at the top end of the 19s. I do enjoy the 19s competition and I like playing for them, but I think being at Hunslet brings my game on more because the Championship is a tougher competition for myself.”