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McDermott hails Rhinos youth production line

Leeds Rhinos Head Coach Brian McDermott has hailed the club’s youth development programme and says that it is now the envy of many across the world under the leadership of namesake Barrie McDermott.
McDermott hails Rhinos youth production line

Leeds Rhinos Head Coach Brian McDermott has hailed the club’s youth development programme and says that it is now the envy of many across the world under the leadership of namesake Barrie McDermott.

NRL side New Zealand Warriors have announced the signing of Rhinos Academy players Jordan Baldwinson and Mason Tonks to play in their Under 20 National Youth Competition on a one year contract with a one year option. The Rhinos Head Coach believes this shows the depth of talent that is being produced by the Rhinos system at present.

He commented, “For a couple of years now we have got used to the NRL sides looking to sign proven talent from Super League, people like Adrian Morley, Sam Burgess, Gareth Ellis and James Graham but, given the amount of money now washing around their competition, it is perhaps inevitable that they would start to target unproven players to bolster their own junior ranks. I think it is a big complement to the work being done by Barrie McDermott and our entire youth department that a side like the Warriors, who, as we have seen down the years, have so much natural talent available in their whole country, have needed to come to our competition to strengthen their side. It is worth noting, that we would not be able to make a similar signing because of the immigration regulations in this country set up between the RFL and the Home Office that is designed to prevent Super League clubs blocking local talent with overseas signings in their junior ranks.

“Given the current climate, it shows how hard we have had to work for many years to not only nurture and develop young talent like Stevie Ward, Brad Singleton and Liam Sutcliffe but to retain them as part of our long term vision for the club. This is not something that can be done overnight, it takes years of dedication and commitment from the club to the players and vice versa. As a club, our record of bringing through young talent has been outstanding over the last decade, under a number of Head Coaches, which shows how important that strategy is to our organisation as a whole,” added McDermott.

The Rhinos boss believes that clubs across Super League have had to put youth development at the centre of their long term plans because of the increase revenue in the NRL and the strength of the Australian dollar to the pound.

He added, “Whilst I would like to see the best young English talent thrive here in Super League, I think there has been a sea-change in recent seasons because of the drying up of imports due to a number of factors. Clubs have had to look to their youth development programmes seriously and I believe the work that Wigan, Warrington and St Helens are doing is outstanding and likewise I know first hand the painstaking work being done down in London to develop talent in the South East of the country.

"A few years back it was Rugby Union that was cherry picking our best young players and there were fears then about the future of our young talent. However, as a sport we have continued to develop youngsters and they remain at the heart of our game. People like Kallum Watkins, Zak Hardaker, Josh Charnley, Ben Crooks, Daryl Clark and Kieran Dixon have lit up Super League this season.

“We were keen to retain Jordan Baldwinson and made him an offer that was above his current position within our structure. However, we understand the attraction for both players to live and play in the Southern hemisphere and I hope it works out for them and they continue to develop their natural talent. Our focus remains on developing players like Alex Foster, Elliot Minchella and Liam Sutcliffe at the heart of our club for many years to come,” added McDermott.

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