Leeds Rhinos have confirmed the list of Academy and Reserves players that have departed the club at the end of the 2023 season.
Out of the eleven departures, Mackenzie Turner, Bailey Aldridge, Tobias Gibson, Kai Morgan, Blake Morgan, Jack Johnson, Mark Nelson and Riley Sunderland, Neil Tchamambe all started their development with Leeds in the Scholarship and progressed to the Academy and Reserves teams. Tom Stevens, Will Shaw and Zach McSwiney were later arrivals during the Academy’s 2022 Grand Final triumph.
Leeds Rhinos Head of Youth John Bastian said: “We would like to thank all the young players that are moving on from Leeds Rhinos at the end of 2023. It has been a pleasure to see them grow as players and young people during their time in our Scholarship, Academy and Reserves and we wish them all the best in the next chapter of their Rugby League journey.”
Hooker Bailey Aldridge was a part of the Rhinos Under-18s side that lifted the Academy Grand Final trophy in 2022, after starting his journey with the Scholarship back in 2019.
He started playing junior Rugby at Batley Boys before moving to Kippax, where he was picked up by the Rhinos’ Scholarship. In his first season under Mark Butterill, he played three times, starting in wins against Newcastle and Warrington and a defeat to Castleford. After Covid suspended the 2020 season, Aldridge came back to feature for both the Under-17s and Under-19s, playing in 11 combined games and scoring five tries.
He was one of the Academy’s top performers in 2022, making a total of nine appearances and scoring three tries on the way to lifting the Grand Final trophy. His try against Warrington in the semi-final in particular was a crucial score.
His performances impressed first-team head coach Rohan Smith in particular as the youngster was given game time with the first team in the 2023 pre-season friendlies before the Reserves competition began in March. He was the only ever-present player for the Reserves last year, plus he was also one of the top try scorers with six over the course of the year.
Aldridge has joined Oldham on a two-year deal from 2024.