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Rhinos rule-out Ryan Brierley bid

Leeds Rhinos chief executive Gary Hetherington has ruled out the possibility of the club signing Leigh Centurions’ playmaker Ryan Brierley.

Leeds Rhinos Chief Executive Gary Hetherington says the club have no interest in signing Leigh's Ryan Brierley Credit: Press Association

Speculation had been mounting the Rhinos were preparing a bid for Brierley, who led the Championship for tries with 36 last season.

However, Hetherington says that the club are not looking for a new halfback.

The six-time Super League champions insist their policy has always been to develop and reward from within rather than sign from elsewhere.

Hetherington told the club’s official website: "I can categorically state that we have no interest in signing Ryan Brierley from Leigh Centurions.

"I can categorically state that we have no interest in signing Ryan Brierley from Leigh Centurions.

“The players' agent has contacted us to make us aware that Ryan wishes to join us but we are not looking to sign a half back as we have four top-class options in that position with Kevin Sinfield, Danny McGuire, Rob Burrow and Liam Sutcliffe for next season already and an outstanding prospect in our academy in Jordan Lilley.

“It is inevitable that we get linked with players through the media and I can assure our fans that, in almost every case, the rumour has no foundation.

“I have spoken to Centurions head of rugby Derek Beaumont and reassured him that we are not in the market for his player or any other half back for that matter. Our priority is to develop players through our ranks.

“We have always operated on a policy of reviewing players annually and elevating their contract to recognise the improvements they have made rather than when their contracts are due to expire and that is very much our focus at the moment rather than bringing players in from other clubs.”

Ian Kirke leaves Leeds for Wakefield

Ian Kirke has become the second long-serving front-row forward to leave Leeds in under a week after joining Super League neighbours Wakefield.

Ian Kirke leaves Leeds for Wakefield Credit: Press Association

The veteran prop, who turns 34 in December, has signed a 12-month deal with the Wildcats, where he will join former Leeds team-mates Ali Lauitiiti, Nick Scruton and Paul McShane.

The sudden departure of the 6ft 5in, 17st Kirke, who was released from the last year of his contract with Leeds, follows closely on the heels of that of Ryan Bailey, who joined Hull KR on a two-year deal last Friday.

Ian will add size and experience to our pack and will make us a better team. His professionalism will rub off on the youngsters and improve their performances. Our forward pack has genuine competition for places and pre-season has reflected that so far. I'm delighted to welcome him to the team.

– James Webster, Wildcats coach

Kirke, who turned down the chance to join the Wildcats three years ago, was in the Leeds team that lifted the Challenge Cup in August and has also won five Grand Final rings during a nine-year career with the Rhinos in which he made 214 appearances.

I will always be grateful to the Rhinos for giving me the chance to play in Super League having been spotted at York. I have been fortunate to be involved in finals every year I have been at the club and that is something that I will remember fondly. There are a few familiar faces at Wakefield which will hopefully make the transition that bit easier. I have spoken to James Webster and I was impressed by his plans for the team. It will be strange to play against Leeds next season, I have a lot of good mates at the club but I am sure I will get over that as soon as the whistle goes. It is good to get my future resolved quickly so that I can get a full pre-season with the Wildcats. Leeds are an ambitious club they want to kick on for the future and that means that players like Brad Singleton and Josh Walters deserve the chance to get more game time. The club have been honest with me about that and, whilst there was an option to stay, hopefully by moving I will get the chance to play more consistently which will benefit everyone.

– Ian Kirke
Departures suggest Rhinos' coach Brian McDermott could be ready to move in the transfer market Credit: Press Association

The Rhinos' decision to release two of their experienced forwards and allowback-rower Chris Clarkson to join Widnes on a season-long loan suggests a plunge into the transfer market is imminent.

Their only signing for 2015 so far is Australian prop Adam Cuthbertson, who is joining them from Newcastle Knights, but they have been linked with a move for ex-Wigan and England forward Lee Mossop, who endured an injury-hit first season in the NRL in 2014 with Parramatta.

Ian Kirke has been a fantastic servant for the club and defied those doubters that said a player from the lower leagues could not succeed at the higher level. Ian has not only survived but thrived in Super League. He leaves with our best wishes and I am sure he will do a fantastic job for James Webster and Wakefield next season.

– Brian McDermott, Leeds Coach


Rhinos' Ryan Bailey moves to Hull KR

Hull Kingston Rovers have snapped up Leeds Rhinos forward Ryan Bailey on a two-year contract as the club continues to bolster its squad for the 2015 season.

Bailey leaves Leeds Rhinos for Hull KR Credit: Press Association

A former England and Great Britain international, the prop is one of the most decorated players in Super League having won six Grand Finals, three World Club Challenge titles and one Challenge Cup with the Rhinos.

I’ve achieved a lot of things at Leeds over a 14-year period but I’m ready for a new challenge at Hull KR.

We’ve got a big game at the start of the season against Leeds and that will be a perfect way to hopefully make my debut. I know from experience that the ground is a daunting place to go to, it’s tough for opposition teams and we’ve got to make the most of that.

I know the ins and outs of all the players at Leeds so hopefully I can pass on a few things to Chezzy and we can get a win first game of the season to get us up and running.

– Ryan Bailey

Making his Super League debut for Leeds at the age of 18 in 2002, Bailey has gone on to rack up more than 300 appearances for his hometown club and was granted a testimonial last season for his service to the Headingley side.

Ryan is a fantastic signing and an important one for the club.

With Justin Poore retiring, we lost a lot of experience there and a bit of grunt up front and that’s what Ryan brings to the table. He has a wealth of experience at Super League level and also in big games.

He’s a great athlete, a good trainer and a wonderful player. He gives the impression that he’s a player who plays to the boundaries of the rules at times but he’s aggressive and that’s what you need in a front rower sometimes.

– Willie Poching, New Assistant coach

Rhinos secure Watkins on long-term contract

Leeds Rhinos have confirmed that England centre Kallum Watkins has agreed a new five year contract with the club.

Kallum Watkins agrees five-year contract Credit: Press Association

The 23-year-old centre has played his entire career at Headingley Carnegie having emerged from the club’s Academy as a teenager. He helped England to victory over Samoa in the opening game of the Four Nations in Brisbane last weekend with a try in the 32-26 win, his seventh try in nine appearances for his country.

His new contract will keep him at the Rhinos until at least the end of the 2019 Super League season. He has scored 72 tries in 128 appearances for the Rhinos since making his debut back in April 2008.

I never wanted to play for any other club than Leeds and I am pleased we have been able to agree a new deal that keeps me here for the future. I have got a young family and the chance to be part of this team as we develop over the next few years is something I am very excited about. The Cup Final last year was very special and it has whetted the appetite for what is to come in 2015. We were all disappointed that we could not get back to Old Trafford last season but I am sure that will drive us on in pre-season to make sure we are ready to go one better in next season. We have got a tremendous group of players at the Rhinos and a great coaching team and together I think we can achieve even more over the next few years. The last decade has been an incredible time for the Rhinos and it has been special to be part of that. Our challenge is now to build on that and continue that period of success in the years to come.

– Kallum Watkins

Kallum’s contract is a significant announcement for the Rhinos and for the England team as well ahead of this weekend’s crucial clash with Australia. To have our best young talent committing to not just Rugby League but Super League as well, is a major boost to our game and one that should not be underestimated. A player as talented as Kallum will inevitably be coveted by the NRL and Rugby Union however his determination to be part of the Rhinos future is something that I am sure will get all our supporters excited.

– Chief Executive Gary Hetherington

Rhinos Chief Executive Hetherington found guilty of improper conduct

Leeds Rhinos Chief executive Gary Hetherington has been fined £1,000 by the Rugby Football League after being found guilty of improper conduct.

Charged: Leeds Chief Executive Gary Hetherington was fined £1,000 after commenting about full-back Hardaker's case Credit: Press Association

The 57-year-old was charged over his comments about the RFL’s investigation into homophobic comments alleged to have been made by Rhinos full back Zak Hardaker during a Super League match against St Helens on 29 August.

Hetherington accused the governing body of carrying out a witch-hunt against Hardaker and claimed it was using the services of a lip reader in an attempt to prove the case.

The RFL dropped the investigation because of insufficient evidence but took Hetherington to task over his comments, arguing they were “prejudicial to the interests of the game”.

An independent operational rules tribunal heard the case nine days ago and deferred a decision but on Friday the RFL revealed that the fine it imposed on Hetherington “for questioning the motivation and integrity” of the investigation had been upheld. Hetherington has 14 days to appeal.

Civic reception to be held for Rhinos and Tykes

They'll be a civic reception for both Yorkshire County Cricket Club and Leeds Rhinos later today.

Winners: Yorkshire won the County Championship for a record 31st time last month Credit: Press Association

The reception at Leeds Civic Hall is in celebration of the Tykes County Championship winning season and for the Rhinos rugby league Challenge Cup winning campaign.

Yorkshire secured their County Championship Crown for a record 31st time after they thrashed Nottinghamshire last month.

Meanwhile,the Rhinos beat Castleford Tigers 23-10 at Wembley back in August to end a run of six consecutive defeats in the Challenge Cup final.

Seventh time lucky: The Rhinos had lost their previous six Challenge Cup finals Credit: Press Association


Hardaker cleared after rugby league investigation

The Leeds Rhinos full back Zak Hardaker has been cleared of any wrong-doing following an investigation by the Rugby Football League.

Hardaker cleared after rugby league investigation Credit: Press Association

For the second time in a matter of months Hardaker was accused of using homophobic language during the Rhinos' game against St Helens in August.

The RFL say there was unsufficient evidence for charges to be brought therefore Hardaker is available for the Rhinos playoff matches starting on Saturday.

McDermott plays up recent history of Wigan tie

The recent history of clashes between Leeds Rhinos and Wigan Warriors is set to come in to focus again tonight as the two face each other hoping finish the Super League season on a high.

Leeds boss Brian McDermott says each team's habit of winning trophies as well as some closely contested battles between the two in recent years set the game up to be a thrilling encounter.

Chris Dawkes asked him about how he would be preparing his team for the game:

Salford sign Rhinos' England for 2015

Salford have signed teenage centre Brad England from Leeds.

The 19-year old son of Castleford's 1986 Challenge Cup winner Keith England joined Castleford's academy in 2011 and moved to Headingley 12 months ago to play for the Rhinos' Under-19s team.

I've been playing rugby league since I was small and it's been my ambition to play in the Super League for a long time. I'm going to have to work hard and it'll be a real challenge to try and make the selection for the first team next season.

– Brad England

Hardaker 'cracking on' despite latest allegations

Leeds Rhinos' Zak Hardaker is training and playing as normal despite being at the centre of another homophobic comments row, according to his head coach.

Brian McDermott admitted the full back had been affected by the allegation which were made after the Rhinos lost to St Helens.

Chris Dawkes spoke to him ahead of the Super League tie against Wigan on Friday:

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