Remember Wellington Albert or Dane Manning? Leeds Rhinos connections to Championship Summer Bash

There will be no shortage of Leeds Rhinos interest in this weekend’s Betfred Championship Summer Bash, which is being staged at Headingley for the first time.

All six second tier fixtures will be staged on the hallowed - and recently renovated turf - during Saturday and Sunday, with the highlight being the day one finale between the top two of Leigh Centurions and Featherstone Rovers.

Leigh are three points ahead of Featherstone and will effectively secure the leaders’ shield if they win.

Rovers are, of course, coached by Brian McDermott who will be returning to Headingley for the second time since being axed by Rhinos in 2018.

Ben White pictured in a pre-season game against Hunslet in 2014. Picture byTony Johnson.

Leeds’ most successful team boss is assisted by Adam Cuthbertson who was a key member of Leeds’ treble-winning side seven years ago, as well as playing in the 2017 Grand Final and 2020 Challenge Cup victories.

Jack Broadbent is on loan from Leeds, Luke Briscoe had three spells with Rhinos and Brett Ferres played in Rhinos’ latest Old Trafford triumph.

There is also some Rhinos interest in the Leigh squad, Leeds having signed their second-rower James McDonnell - who is currently on loan from Wigan Warriors - on a two-year contract beginning next season.

Broadbent, though he won’t be returning to Leeds, is one of two members of Rhinos’ 2022 squad who could be on duty at the Bash.

Jordan Lilley will be back at his former home ground this weekend, with Bradford Bulls. Picture by Steve Riding.

The other is Levi Edwards, a teenage centre on loan at York City Knights.

Edwards moved from Leeds’ scholarship straight into the full-time group at the same time as Morgan Gannon, but has yet to make his senior debut.

Also on the books at York, who face Newcastle Thunder in the weekend’s final game, are the ex-Leeds pair of Chris Clarkson and Jordan Thompson.

Clarkson, a Rhinos academy product, made 100 Super League appearances for his home city club from 2010-2014.

Thompson was one of Rhinos’ more unexpected signings. He joined them from Leigh in July, 2018 and played six times before departing at the end of that season.

Several other players with a similar ‘ships in the night’ relationship with Rhinos could get a run out of their former patch.

Batley Bulldogs’ Ben White and Dane Manning are members of an exclusive club, having made only one appearance for Leeds.

White was called up from Rhinos’ academy into the first team for a Super League game at London Broncos in August, 2014.

That was a week before Leeds’ Challenge Cup final date with Castleford Tigers and coach McDermott rested most of his star names.

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Broncos won 40-36, their only victory of a disastrous relegation season.

White started at scrum-half that afternoon, but Manning was a substitute for his only competitive game in blue and amber, a home win over Hull KR - in front of a 16,000 crowd - in July, 2009.

Their teammate Ben Kaye made a handful of first team appearances and Batley’s Nyle Flynn had a spell in Leeds’ system, without breaking though.

Batley play Dewsbury Rams, whose faint hopes of avoiding relegation were kept alive by a 24-24 draw at Newcastle Thunder last week.

Their squad that day included on-loan Featherstone duo Bayley Gill and Ben Mathiou.

Both have played for Rhinos’ reserves this term and Mathiou is the son of Jamie Mathiou who was a Challenge Cup winner with Leeds in 1999.

Others who had a brief involvement at first team level for Leeds include Bradford Bulls’ Rhyse Evans and Wellington Albert, of London.

Evans was signed from Bulls to provide cover in the outside-backs for the 2020 season.

He scored one try in five games before returning to Odsal, where he is a teammate of Leeds academy products including Jordan Lilley, Brad England and Sam Hallas.

Albert, a Papua New Guinea Test prop, was a surprise signing from Widnes Vikings in 2019 and also touched down once in a nap hand of Leeds appearances.

Others who will be treading their former turf this weekend had more success.

Ben Jones-Bishop, for example, played in two winning Grand Finals for Leeds and was a World Club champion, though his current Sheffield Eagles teammates Cory Aston and Vila Halafihi failed to crack the first team during their time there.