LEEDS RHINOS have awarded squad numbers to three teenagers and last season’s Championship young player of the year.
Yorkshire Evening Post Shooting Star Ash Handley, Jordan Lilley and Ashton Golding, all 19 and 21-year-old Jordan Baldwinson have been included in coach Brian McDermott’s 25-man senior squad for 2016.
Winger Handley, who scored 13 tries in 20 appearances last term after stepping in when Tom Briscoe suffered a long-term shoulder injury, will wear No 22.
The No 23 jersey goes to full-back Ashton Golding and half-back Jordan Lilley has been allocated No 25.
Both played four senior games this year.
Baldwinson, a Hunslet Warriors product, made his debut in 2013 and then had spells with Auckland Warriors and Bradford Bulls before spending this year at Featherstone Rovers. He takes No 24.
Baldwinson said: “It is great to be back at the Rhinos and I am really looking forward to next season. I know it is still a massive learning curve for me, but being around the quality players we have at Leeds can only help me improve.”
Golding, who will combine his Rhinos commitments with studying at Leeds Beckett University, said: “It is brilliant to be in the squad especially with Jordan.
“We have known each other since we were knee high at Stanningley and it is brilliant we are both continuing to the next stage of our careers together.
“For me personally, this is a great opportunity to build on the things I learnt last season with a big pre-season.”
Handley, who signed from Oulton Raiders, added: “Last year was incredible with everything the club achieved.
“As young players we know the standard that is expected of us. I think the success the team has had will motivate all of us to do it all over again.
“It might take us a few years to repeat what the last group of players has done, but I think we will be able to get there again soon.”
McDermott believes the quartet have a big future. He commented: “All four of these young lads have been rewarded for their efforts last season.
“I thought Ash Handley showed incredible maturity during his time in the first team last season, while Jordan Lilley and Ashton gave fans a glimpse into the future with their performances against New Zealand recently.
“Jordan Baldwinson was the Championship young player of the year when he gained a lot of experience in a tough division for a young forward.”