Why I want to leave Leeds Rhinos - Liam Sutcliffe explains transfer request
After eight seasons in Leeds Rhinos’ first team squad, transfer-listed Liam Sutcliffe says it is “time for a change”.
Sutcliffe, 25, is contracted to Leeds until the end of next year, when he would become a free agent, but has asked for a move now.
The Hunslet Warriors product has scored 53 tries, 257 goals and one drop goal in 171 games for Leeds since his debut in 2013 and is the club’s second-longest-serving player, after captain Stevie Ward.
He has started two games for Rhinos this year, at centre and in the second-row and has also played at full-back and in the halves, without pinned down a settled role in the team.
Explaining his decision to request a transfer, Sutcliffe - who was capped by England at full and Knights level in 2018 - said: “I just feel like I have reached that stage of my career now where I need something new and a bit of a different challenge.
“It hasn’t been a spur of the moment decision, it has been a long process.
“I have had a long think about it and what I want to do and now I’ve decided to go through with it.”
Having begun his career in his home city club’s academy, Sutcliffe described asking to leave as a “real tough decision”.
He stressed: “It has taken me a while to have a think about it and what I think is best for myself.
“I just think for me personally, at the age I am and this stage of my career, I need something different and a bit of a change.”
A Wembley winner in 2014 and Grand Final champion three years later, Sutcliffe was tipped as a future England stand-off in 2015, before suffering a season-ending knee injury.
His versatility has made him a key member of Rhinos’ squad throughout his time at the club, but he admitted the utility tag is a factor in wanting a move away.
“I do want to nail down a position,” he said.
“That was part of my decision.”
Though he remains on the casualty list, Sutcliffe was present when Rhinos resumed training on Monday following the coronavirus break.
He insisted: “Until I get everything sorted out I am fully committed to everything we are about this year.”
Several clubs, including neighbours Castleford Tigers, are understood to be interested in Sutcliffe, but he stressed: “I’ve got nothing [lined up], I’ve just got to see what happens now.
“I’ve got to be patient and let things unfold.”
Rhinos make their Betfred Super League return against Huddersfield Giants on Sunday, August 2, but that “might be a little bit too soon” for Sutcliffe following his knee problem.
“I have still probably got a few weeks left,” he said of his recovery.
“I’ve just started back doing little bits of running and hopefully that will kick on and I won’t be too long.”
While Rhinos are now back at work, training is taking place under strict guidelines designed to limit the possible spread of Covid-19.
Players have their temperature tested before being allowed into the Kirkstall training centre and contact between individuals is kept to a minimum,
“It was a bit weird, not knowing what to expect,” Sutcliffe said of the new procedures.
“It was good to see everyone again, there’s a few people I hadn’t seen in a while, but it is different and it is going to take some getting used to.
“We have got no choice, we have just got to get on with it and crack on with things how they are.”
Despite being off the field for four months, Sutcliffe reckons Rhinos’ players look in good shape.
“Everyone’s pretty fit,” he reported.
“We did a fitness test and everyone smashed their scores so everyone’s looking pretty good.”
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