SCRUM-HALF JORDAN Lilley has confirmed he will not be returning to Leeds Rhinos at the end of his season-long loan with Bradford Bulls.
The Leeds-born 22-year-old made his debut in 2015 and has played 44 games for Rhinos, including the World Club Challenge three years ago.
He is in his second spell with Bulls – who Rhinos visit in the Coral Challenge Cup on Saturday – and has also played on dual-registration or loan for Hunslet, Featherstone Rovers and Leigh Centurions.
Lilley’s last appearance for Rhinos was in a defeat at Castleford Tigers last July.
“It is a season-long loan [at Bradford] with an option in Leeds’ favour for next year and they are not taking that up,” Lilley revealed.
“I will be a free-agent then. I was disappointed to hear that, but some things in life don’t always work out and you have to go down different alleys. I am sure I will go down the next alley and give it my best shot.”
It is a season-long loan [at Bradford] with an option in Leeds’ favour for next year and they are not taking that up.Jordan Lilley
A product of the Stanningley community club – where he is joint first-team coach alongside Rhinos’ Ashton Golding – Lilley said he could “potentially” remain with Bradford, but added: “I only found out the other week and I haven’t had chance to see what’s about.
“At the moment it is just about playing well and getting some consistency in my game.”
Saturday’s sixth round tie, televised live by the BBC, will put Lilley in the shop window.
“I’ve been playing all right,” he said of his performances this year. “Every time I take to the field I try to play to the best of my ability and hopefully this week I can put a full 80-minute performance together, not just kicking and taking the line on, but organising and getting the team around the field.
“I have got things I need to improve on and I am working on those and trying to get better.”
This weekend will be the first time Lilley has played against Rhinos, who will have interim coach Richard Agar in charge after Dave Furner was sacked this week.
“I am a Leeds fan, 100 per cent,” he added. “I have grown up watching them and it will be a bit weird playing against them, but I am looking forward to the challenge.
“I wouldn’t say I have a point to prove. I will be going into it like I do every game, it is just another Challenge Cup game for me and I will go out there and do my job. I just want to perform to the best of my ability.”
The tie will revive memories of the early years of this century when the Leeds-Bradford rivalry was the biggest in rugby league.
The clubs have not met since 2014 – though Bulls have been liquidated and reformed since then – and Lilley stressed: “I wouldn’t say it’s a dream draw for me, but it is for the club of Bradford. It is a massive draw and something we’ve not had in years.
“It is something everyone looks forward to, Leeds against Bradford. It’s a dream draw for the club and fans and hopefully there will be a big crowd. We played Workington last year in the play-off final, there were 7-8,000 there and it was a crazy atmosphere. Hopefully we can get 15,000 there and there’ll be a really good atmosphere.”
Bulls are sixth in the Betfred Championship after a defeat at Toronto last weekend which ended their seven-game winning run in all competitions.
“You go into every game fancying your chances,” Lilley stressed. “We will give it our best shot, knowing we are playing a very good team and if we are going to be in the contest we’re going to need nine out of 10 performances from everyone in the squad.”