Lee Kershaw opens up on training with Leeds Rhinos, looking for a new club and Wakefield Trinity exit

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Former Wakefield Trinity winger Lee Kershaw has revealed why he is training with Leeds Rhinos despite not being part of their squad.

Kershaw has been looking for a new club since leaving Trinity when his contract expired at the end of the 2023 campaign, but admitted “at the moment” he does not expect to sign for Leeds. Rhinos have completed their squad for 2024 and space will only open up if an existing player moves on.

The 24-year-old stressed he is aware of the situation and grateful for the opportunity to train at an elite level as he searches for a deal in Betfred Super League. He said Rhinos have been upfront from the start and explained: “They said ‘we don’t need you, we’ve got the squad numbers and what we need, but you are welcome to train’. I just said ‘thank you’.”

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He added: “I needed somewhere to train, because I haven’t got a club at the moment and I’m not sure when I will have one. I spoke to Rohan [Smith, Rhinos’ coach] and people at Leeds and they said ‘you’re welcome to train and keep fit and get ready for the season’ so I will be ready when someone does give me a ring or whatever. A big thank you to them and everyone here, it is a good place to train - the staff are really good and it’s all in one place.”

Former Wakefield winger Lee Kershaw (in black top) training with Rhinos on Tuesday. Picture by Jonathan Gawthorpe.Former Wakefield winger Lee Kershaw (in black top) training with Rhinos on Tuesday. Picture by Jonathan Gawthorpe.
Former Wakefield winger Lee Kershaw (in black top) training with Rhinos on Tuesday. Picture by Jonathan Gawthorpe.
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Being without a club less than two months before the season begins is a new experience for Kershaw, who made a try-scoring debut for Wakefield against Leeds in 2019. He reflected: “I’ve never had this before. Obviously I would prefer to find a home and look to be playing in the friendlies coming up and building towards something. I don’t really like being a free-agent, but I do like being here.”

With 18 tries in 50 games for Trinity, Kershaw is a proven performer at Super League level and admitted to being “a bit surprised” at not yet securing a new job. “I thought I would have something,” he conceded. I didn’t think it would be straight away, but I thought when pre-season kicked in for all the clubs I would be training. But so far, it’s just a case of clubs saying there’s not enough space or what have you.

“I can get that because we are in mid pre-season, coming up to Christmas and there’s probably not much room left. I am not really sure what the next step is, but I’ve just got to stay ready, I guess. I am two and a half weeks into my pre-season so I am not ready yet, I admit that, but I try to do a bit extra when I can to make sure I am.”

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Until Leeds stepped in, Kershaw - who played rugby union before joining Wakefield - was close to making a shock return to playing action in the 15-a-side code. He revealed: “I messaged my local club, Baildon and asked if I could go play with them. I was on the teamsheet for the seconds, but the next day I got a message from Leeds saying I could train there, so it was [a case of] what might have been.”

Trinity have gone through a resurgence off the field under new owner Matt Ellis and coach Daryl Powell since being relegated to the Betfred Championship three months ago. Kershaw stressed “in a perfect world I’d want to be playing in Super League, there’s no denying that”, but feels Trinity now have a bright future after years of struggle.

He noted: “It looks like a good club to be at now and it looks like they will do very well this year. I spoke to Daryl Powell and Matt Ellis and it seemed like I would be getting an offer from them, but I was told they are going with someone else. It kind of is a completely new club - the same badge and same fans and what have you, but everything else behind it is new. It is a completely stripped down and built back up club and hopefully they are going to get back in Super League.”