Leeds Rhinos have announced the signing of seven young stars from the club’s scholarship programme to the academy for next season.
The seven players have played in the club’s under-16 team this season and have now earned their first professional contracts with the club.
The group are led by captain Kiedan Hartley. An England Youth international, he has scored four tries in six appearances. The talented full-back joins the Rhinos from East Leeds.
Centre Harry Newman joins the Rhinos from Newsome Panthers in Huddersfield, where he was coached by a former Leeds favourite, prop Darren Fleary. Another England Youth squad member, he scored three tries in five appearances for Leeds Rhinos U-16s in 2016.
Winger Alfie Goddard has impressed in 2016 in the U-16s side with his skillful try scoring ability.
He is joined at the Rhinos by his Stanley Rangers team-mate Owen Trout. The prop is the younger brother of former Wakefield forward Kyle Trout. He is the only player to have featured in every game in the 2016 season, including scoring a try
The Rhinos have also secured two players from the Oulton amateur club in Leeds. Half-back Harrison Scott has missed only two games in the Under-16 season, scoring four tries and kicking six goals. Vice captain and loose-forward Loui McConnell is the third England Youth squad member at the Rhinos and he has produced some impressively consistent performances this season, missing only one game all season.
Finally, second-row Muizz Mustapha joins the Rhinos from Hunslet Warriors. He missed only one game in the 2016 season and scored one try. A powerful runner, he is the latest of a long line of players who have turned professional with the Rhinos from the Hunslet Warriors club.
Head of youth development Simon Bell said: “We are delighted to have secured all seven young players for the next few years of their development. They had a good year this season at Under 16 level, losing just two games, and they will certainly add to the talented group we already have at Under 19 level next season.
“They are aware that there is a lot of hard work ahead of them but the support the whole club gives to our youth development programme allows these young players and their parents to have faith that they will progress if they continue to work hard. Our head coach Brian McDermott has always looked to promote our academy players, if they are ready, and that is a great incentive for all our young players to develop through our programme.”