Leeds Rhinos youngsters follow in famous fathers' footsteps: Grand Final-winning names make Headingley return
Familiar names from Leeds Rhinos’ greatest era are back on the club’s books.
No fewer than three sons of fathers who starred in Rhinos’ successive Grand Final wins from 2007-2009 have joined the club’s scholarship and another is now in the first team squad.
Joseph Diskin, Kai Taylor-Smith and Lore Jones-Buchanan are all among the latest batch of teenagers to join Rhinos’ scholarship.
Matt Diskin, Lee Smith and Jamie Jones-Buchanan - who is now Rhinos’ assistant-coach - all played in the Grand Final wins of 2007, 2008 and 2009.
Jack Sinfield, whose father Kevin captained Rhinos to their famous three-peat, has been promoted from Leeds’ academy into the first team squad for next year.
Those four are not the only familiar names at the club.
Jarrod O’Connor, whose father Terry played for Wigan Warriors and Great Britain, is set to begin his third season in Rhinos’ senior squad.
O’Connor’s fellow first team forward Morgan Gannon is the son of Jim Gannon, who played for Huddersfield Giants, Halifax, Hull KR and Widnes Vikings.
In addition, Oliver Field has moved up from the academy alongside Sinfield, a quarter of a century after his father Jamie featured for Leeds in the early years of the Super League era.
The family connection continues with Rhinos coach Richard Agar.
Both he and his father Allan Agar played in a Championship-winning Dewsbury side - two decades apart - and later coached a team to Challenge Cup final victory at Wembley.
From personal experience, Agar knows such a situation can add extra pressure on to a young player’s shoulders, but reckons it can also be an advantage.
“We have got quite a few guys who have got some rugby league blood in them,” Agar said.
“When I coached at Wakefield and Lee [Smith] used to play for us, Kai used to come along to team runs.
“When we were warming up, if we had a little bit of a game, we would let him run around on the wing for a bit.
“It seems quite ironic that 10 years later he’s on the scholarship here.
“You find with a lot of lads who are brought up around it and spend a lot of time with a ball in their hands, it is a fairly natural progression for them.
“It’s not uncommon for young kids who spend their time around dressing rooms and rugby players and love the game like they do to graduate into being professionals.”
Rhinos’ 2022 scholarship squad is -
Under-16s: Kai Taylor-Smith (community club, Hunslet Club Parkside, Bruntcliffe School), Leo Evans (Brotherton Bulldogs, Thornton Beckfoot), Sonny Pattison (East Leeds, Royds), Lloyd McEwan-Peters (Guiseley Rangers, Prince Henry’s), Ben Findlay (Guiseley Rangers, Rodillian), Fergus McCormack (Guiseley Rangers, Woodhouse Grove), David Benson (Hunslet Club Parkside, Brigshaw), Bobby Hartley (East Leeds, Mount St Mary’s), Mason Corbett (East Leeds, John Smeaton), Joe Phillips (Siddal, Ryburn Valley), Josh Hepworth (Kippax Welfare, Brigshaw), Archie Hurford (Guiseley Rangers, Woodhouse Grove), Mark Nelson (East Leeds, Corpus Christi), Harry Taylor (Guiseley Rangers, Prince Henry’s), Casey Cunningham (Hunslet Club Parkside, South Leeds John Charles).
Under-15s: Harry Smith (West Bowling,, Buttershaw BBEC), Dylan Hutchinson (Lock Lane, Castleford Academy), Marcus Qareqare (Lock Lane, Sherburn High), Alexander Cowley (Lock Lane, Castleford Academy), Joseph Butterfield (Lock Lane, Tadcaster Grammar), Jack Wilson (Lock Lane, Queen Ethelburga’s), Callum Webster (Oulton Raiders, Temple Moor), Noah Whittingham (Oulton Raiders, Boston Spa), Luca Teal (Oulton Raiders, Rodilian), George Brown (Dewsbury Celtic, Rodilian), Harley Thomas (Dewsbury Celtic, Spen Valley), Harry Siepker (Birstall Victoria, Mirfield Free Grammar), Lore Jones-Buchanan (Stanningley, Priesthorpe), Elliott Fox (Stanningley, Cardinal Heenan), Presley Cassell (Siddal, Trinity Academy), Joseph Diskin (Dewsbury Moor, Spen Valley), Jacob Stead (West Bowling Lightcliffe Academy), Toby Marshall (West Bowling, Lightcliffe Academy), Jayemm Oladipupo (West Bowling, St Bede’s).
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