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Leeds Rhinos Chief Executive Gary Hetherington speaks out after Bradford Bulls end dual registration partnership

Leeds Rhinos CEO Gary Hetherington

Bradford Bulls yesterday made the bold decision confirming that the Championship side wouldn’t be opting into a dual registration deal with a Super League side, and now 2023 dual reg partner Leeds Rhinos have reacted with Chief Executive Gary Hetherington speaking out.

It was a brave decision from the Bulls to opt against a dual reg deal with a Super League club, something that can be so beneficial to Championship challengers as it often sees them land the services of young and talented players that bring a different edge to games played in the second tier.

Instead the Bulls have vowed to utilise their own players more in a bid to further the development of them and keep a Bulls identity. That said they have accepted that they would be open to a dual registration deal with another Championship side, or even a League One side.

That highlights the big club mentality that the Bulls are working towards, something that would make sense given the side are seemingly just a modern stadium away from Super League status per the preliminary IMG gradings.

Last season the Bulls utilised a dual reg deal with Leeds Rhinos and early in the season from the outside looking in it seemed to be used a lot. Rival fans would often poke fun at the line-ups announced by the team they dubbed the ‘Bradford Rhinos’.

During those opening months the turnover of players at Odsal seemed immense and when it slowed up it was no surprise to see the Bulls on-field fortunes change, the team eventually placing third and making it to the play-off semi-final.

The man on the other side of the deal has now spoken out with Leeds Rhinos Chief Executive Gary Hetherington speaking on the matter, making comments to the Yorkshire Evening Post about what Bradford’s decision means for the Rhinos.

Hetherington told the YEP: “In 2024 the Rhinos will have a number of partner clubs in the Championship. Part of the partnership will be the ability for some of our first team squad players to play on loan or dual-reg with our partner club.

“It obviously helps them in terms of getting a quality player, but also from our point of view the main focus is the players’ personal development. There’s been discussions with Rohan Smith and coaches at the various clubs and that will all be revealed next week.”

Interestingly though Hetherington then commented on the process itself potentially being changed, whilst offering an update on the much neglected reserves competition. That could well explain why the Rhinos have yet to commit to a dual reg deal thus far.

Explaining the club are awaiting further information, he said: “Following quite a bit of pressure from a variety of clubs in Championship and Super League, they (the RFL) are looking at refining that to make it as simple and straight-forward as possible. We are also awaiting further information on the reserve grade competition.”

At present with a number of the high profile Championship sides having already committed to a dual registration deal with Super League teams, it means the Rhinos are more limited in who they opt to work with.

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