TREBLE-WINNERS Leeds Rhinos have confirmed their full 25-man squad for 2016.
Rhinos, who have announced several squad numbers over the past week, will select from a group with an average age of 25 and including 15 players who have come through the club’s youth system.
In the numbers confirmed today, recruit Anthony Mullally will wear 20, with Grand Final hero Josh Walters, who scored the decisive try at Old Trafford last month, hanging on to his No 21 jersey.
The squad includes eight additions to last season’s group: signings Keith Galloway, Beau Falloon, Mullally and Jordan Baldwinson, mid-season recruit Matt Garbutt and youngsters Ash Handley, Ashton Golding and Jordan Lilley, who all had numbers outside the top-25 in 2015.
Players from last season’s 25 who are not included this year are retired duo Kylie Leuluai and Jamie Peacock, Catalans Dragons signing Paul Aiton, Kevin Sinfield, who has joined Yorkshire Carnegie Rugby Union Club, Andy Yates (now at Wakefield), Elliot Minchella – set to sign for Sheffield Eagles – Robbie Ward, after he was not offered a new deal and Robbie Mulhern.
No announcement has been made on Mulhern’s future, but he has been linked with a move to Hull KR, possibly on season-long loan.
The only player to drop down the squad number list is Australian forward Mitch Achurch. He has been allocated No 19, swapping places with Brad Singleton, who takes over as No 16.
Rhinos chief executive Gary Hetherington said: “With the players having returned to pre-season training this week, our focus is already on 2016 and the challenges that lie ahead.
“Beau Falloon and Keith Galloway have now both arrived and already there is an excitement around next season.
“I am sure everyone is looking forward to the Wetherby Whaler Festive Challenge on Boxing Day and seeing the majority of this squad in action at Headingley Carnegie.”
Hetherington added: “With 60 per cent of the squad having come through our academy, it speaks volumes for the great work that is being done in the development of the game at grassroots in Leeds.
“I am sure there will be other young players pushing for selection throughout the course of the season that will increase that number and those young players can see the rewards that are on offer if they continue to work hard over the coming years.”
The squad in full is: 1 Zak Hardaker, 2 Tom Briscoe, 3 Kallum Watkins, 4 Joel Moon, 5 Ryan Hall, 6 Danny McGuire, 7 Rob Burrow, 8 Keith Galloway (last year Kylie Leuluai), 9 Beau Falloon (Paul Aiton), 10 Adam Cuthbertson (Jamie Peacock), 11 Jamie Jones-Buchanan, 12 Carl Ablett, 13 Stevie Ward (Kevin Sinfield), 14 Liam Sutcliffe (Stevie Ward), 15 Brett Delaney, 16 Brad Singleton (Mitch Achurch), 17 Mitch Garbutt (Adam Cuthbertson), 18 Jimmy Keinhorst (Liam Sutcliffe), 19 Mitch Achurch (Brad Singleton), 20 Anthony Mullally (Jimmy Keinhorst), 21 Josh Walters, 22 Ash Handley (Andy Yates), 23 Ashton Golding (Elliot Minchella), 24 Jordan Baldwinson (Robbie Ward), 25 Jordan Lilley (Robbie Mulhern).
Meanwhile, Rhinos will visit Hunslet Hawks for the annual Leeds Brewery Lazenby Cup fixture on Friday, January 8 (8pm).