Leeds Rhinos chief executive Gary Hetherington

Rhinos boss blasts rivals

Leeds Rhinos boss Gary Hetherington blasted 6 of his rival Super League chiefs after they thwarted a move to heal the rift in the game.

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Hardaker in homophobic comments probe

Zak Hardaker
Zak Hardaker Credit: ITV Yorkshire

Leeds full-back Zak Hardaker is to be investigated over allegations that he made homophobic comments during the Rhinos' 24-6 Super League defeat at Warrington last Friday.

Hardaker, who was a member of England's 2013 World Cup squad, is alleged to have mouthed a homophobic reference towards referee James Child and the incident has been referred to the Rugby Football League's compliance department, which has begun an investigation.

Ablett handed two-match ban

Carl Ablett
Carl Ablett Credit: Press Association

Leeds Rhinos forward Carl Ablett will lose his ever-present record this season after being handed a two-match ban.

The second rower admitted kicking Warrington centre Joel Monaghan in the act of scoring during the Rhinos' 24-6 defeat at the Halliwell Jones Stadium last Friday.

Ablett, who has not missed a game since last June, will sit out Leeds' Tetley's Challenge Cup quarter-final against Leigh on Friday as well as the league game against Huddersfield on Thursday week.

Wakefield prop Richard Moore will miss his club's home game against London Broncos on Friday week after admitting a Grade B striking offence during his side's 20-12 defeat at Bradford last Sunday. He was given a one-match ban.

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Peacock facing fight for forward berth

The return of former Leeds and England academy captain Jordan Baldwinson to Headingley could signal a changing of the guard if the youngster gets his way.

Peacock faces a challenge for his position next season
Peacock faces a challenge for his position next season Credit: Press Association

Baldwinson, 19, returns to Leeds Rhinos after six months with the Warriors in New Zealand and is hoping to dethrone the veteran forward.

He and fellow forward Mason Tonks cut short their stay in Auckland to join relegation threatened Bradford Bulls for the rest of the current season.

Baldwinson is hoping to challenge Peacock for his starting spot when he makes his official return to Headingley next year, but is looking forward to playing against the 36-year-old when the Bulls meet the Rhinos this season.

"I said to my family it would be really good to play against Leeds this year because I really want to take Jamie Peacock on.

"Kylie Leuluai has only got this year until his contract needs renewing so there's a spot there and Jamie Peacock is getting old and he might be thinking about retiring soon. It's nice that we might be able to take their spots.

"But I'm not focused on Leeds next year, I'm just focused on the Bulls and I want to see what I can do this year.

"This is the best option for me now and I want to really make a name for myself in Super League. It would be great if I could make a difference to this team."

Rhinos winger rejects new deal

Super League leaders Leeds Rhinos have announced that England Knights winger Ben Jones-Bishop will leave the club at the end of the season.

Ben Jones-Bishop to leave the Rhinos
Ben Jones-Bishop to leave the Rhinos Credit: Press Association

The 25-year-old is out of contract this year and the Rhinos have confirmed that he has rejected the offer of a new deal.

Jones-Bishop lost his place to England winger Tom Briscoe following his arrival in the winter from Hull and has made just five appearances so far this season, most recently at Castleford on Friday when he took his try tally to 53 in 76 appearances.

Leeds chief executive Gary Hetherington said: "It is always disappointing to lose a local player like Ben who has come through our academy and made his mark in the first team but we fully understand his decision to turn down the offer of a longer term contract last season to leave his options open.

"Ben was always going to be a valuable member of this year's squad and he will continue to be so until the end of the season. He will leave for a club of his choice as a good friend of the Rhinos and with everyone's best wishes."

The news will spark a mad scramble for the services of Jones-Bishop. Coach Brian McDermott has already rejected a host of requests to take him on loan and insists he will remain part of his plans for the rest of this season.

Bishop, who made his debut in 2008, said: "I have been at the Rhinos for seven years now so it will be sad for me to leave and it was a big decision to reject the offer of a longer contract last season but I wanted to keep my options open until now.

"I will miss the Rhinos players and fans but they can be assured I want to finish my time here on a high and I will be trying my best to contribute to that success in any way I can."

Rhinos boss happy to be early pace setters

Leeds coach Brian McDermott is happy for his team to take on the role of front-runners in the Super League title race as they prepare to host reigning champions Wigan but warns they will almost certainly have a "blip" at some stage this year.

Brian McDermott happy to be early leaders
Brian McDermott happy to be early leaders

The Rhinos were outside the top six at this time of the season in both 2011 and 2012 before going on to make history by becoming the first team to win the Grand Final from fifth spot.

This time Leeds are going strong in both league and cup but McDermott saw from St Helens' recent mini slump how fortunes can suddenly change and is not getting carried away by his side's impressive form in the first half of the campaign.

"If we are very fortunate enough to win the league this year and end up doing it leading from the front, that would be something I've never experienced before," McDermott said. "It would be a weird way of doing it but that's what we'd like to do.

"At the the moment, we're top of the tree but we're not celebrating that. That position can leave us at any time - we're not five or six points clear of anybody.

"I am sure we will have a blip this year and we'll plan accordingly. If we can go through the season without having one it will be nice but, in reality, it will come, whether that's forced by injury or by the nature of the intensity of the games.

"When you're up front, everybody tries to knock you off and nobody likes Leeds anyway, do they?"

The visit of Wigan to Headingley on Friday night is shaping as the biggest match of the season so far

Warriors boss Shaun Wane admits he was impressed by the Rhinos' 32-12 Challenge Cup win over St Helens last Saturday but knows his team traditionally thrive on the heady atmosphere of a Roses match at Headingley.

Wigan boss Shaun Wane
Wigan boss Shaun Wane Credit: Press Association

"They're the team to beat," Wane said. "I thought what they did against St Helens was perfect. They were very energetic. They are a very good team, with good edges and obviously they've got Jamie Peacock playing out of his skin.

"They've got some great players and when you start naming them it's quite scary but we can play as well.

"It's one of the best atmospheres you can find, is Headingley, and we always seem to play well there. We admire what Leeds do but they do have deficiencies and we're hoping to find them out."

Rhinos secure Moon until 2018

Leeds Rhinos have been given a boost ahead of Friday's Super League clash with Wigan.

Joel Moon signs new Rhinos deal
Joel Moon signs new Rhinos deal Credit: Press Association

Joel Moon has agreed a new deal with the club that will keep him at Headingley until at least the end of the 2018 season.

The 25-year-old centre has agreed a new five year contract, and said, "It wasn't really a big decision for me to agree to the new contract. The club have been great to me and my family and that has been key for me."

Moon joined the Rhinos last season from Salford having previously played at Brisbane and New Zealand Warriors as well as playing for the NRL Indigenous All Stars and the Super League Exiles representative teams. He says the Super League is better than he expected it to be:

"To be honest, when I first came over to Super League, I did not see myself staying as long as I am but the competition is really strong and I think it has brought out the best in my game.”

Leeds Rhinos Head Coach Brian McDermott added, "I think it speaks volumes about how committed the players are to one another that so many are happy to agree long term contracts with the club and see their future with the Rhinos.”

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Challenge Cup: Rhinos book place in quarter-finals

Leeds Rhinos through to Challenge Cup quarter-finals

Leeds Rhinos have booked their place in the Challenge Cup quarter-finals with a convincing win over St Helens.

Two first-half tries from full-back Zak Hardaker saw Leeds into the last eight and kept them on course for their first Tetley's Challenge Cup triumph since 1999.

The stand-out fifth-round tie at Headingley lived up to all expectations as the Rhinos showed their class to establish a 20-6 lead before demonstrating their new-found defensive resolve to keep the visitors at bay in a spirited fightback.

Leeds finally clinched a 32-12 victory with two tries from Danny McGuire and Jamie Peacock in the last seven minutes of a quality match to condemn St Helens to a third successive defeat.

Rhinos boss admires St Helens' approach ahead of Challenge Cup clash

Leeds Rhinos coach Brian McDermott has revealed his admiration for arch rivals St Helens as the Super League heavyweights prepare to do battle in the fifth round of the Tetley's Challenge Cup.

Rhinos boss Brian McDermott
Rhinos boss Brian McDermott Credit: Press Association

The stand-out tie of the last 16 at Headingley on Saturday afternoon will feature arguably the two most exciting sets of outside backs in the English game, with Saints' emerging youngsters going head to head with the Rhinos' experienced internationals.

Although St Helens have an overseas half-back pair, their outside backs are all home-grown and that has delighted former Great Britain international McDermott.

"That's why I've been a fan of Saints for a while," McDermott said. "While they are arch rivals and I want to beat them, for the good of our competition, I'm glad that they're challenging at the top.

"They've made some tough calls over the years with recruitment. They've stayed with British when they could have got overseas fellas in and it's good to see a club investing their money in the right way and doing things the right way.

It is only four weeks since Saints ended the Rhinos' unbeaten record with a thrilling last-gasp 14-10 Super League win at Langtree Park and McDermott is expecting another close contest.

"We're preparing for the long haul on Saturday," he said. "Maybe the game will go down to the wire."

Aiton out for three months

Leeds Rhinos have been dealt a blow with news that hooker Paul Aiton will miss the next three months whilst undergoing a course of prescribed medication to treat the medical condition which has side lined him for the past two weeks.

Paul Aiton will miss three months because of illness
Paul Aiton will miss three months because of illness Credit: Press Association

Chief Executive Gary Hetherington commented, "Paul is desperately disappointed because he feels fit and healthy but after tests and consultation with a specialist he has been advised that he needs a course of medication.

"He will not be able to play whilst taking this medication until he has made a full recovery. This process is expected to be about 12 weeks, but he will be monitored on a monthly basis.”

Paul Aiton added, "I'm so enjoying being part of the Rhinos team and really disappointed I will be out for so long. But, I'll do all I have to and be back raring to go.”

Head Coach Brian McDermott said, "Paul had settled in really well, so to be losing him and Jamie Jones-Buchanan for the next three months is a blow, but at least they'll both come back at a crucial time of the season pretty fresh and fit.”

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