York City Knights have confirmed a new dual-registration agreement with Betfred Super League club Leeds Rhinos that will see Knights youngsters get the opportunity to play academy and reserve-grade rugby league for the Rhinos throughout 2022.
Last season, teenagers Toby Warren and Myles Harrison both had similar spells with the West Yorkshire club and the new arrangement will see those two plus outside backs AJ Towse and Brad Ward presented with chances to get more gametime to enhance their development as players.
On top of the dual-registration partnership, Warren has joined Leeds on a one-month loan deal with immediate effect.
Knights Head Coach James Ford outlined his view on how the relationship will work.
“This is a great opportunity for those four young men to get more rugby league at an appropriate level. At this stage, we aren’t able to offer academy or reserve team opportunities at the Knights and we’re delighted that this link-up with Leeds will see Toby, Myles, AJ and Brad exposed to more rugby league.
“The four of them will be training with us regularly before heading to Leeds when they have opportunities to play and, going into such a well-regarded and professional setup will only be of benefit to them.
“Our aims for each of them are to get them a handful of matches for the Knights this season and to then kick on further in 2023 and beyond. While we know our supporters want to see them in the Knights shirt, as a coaching staff we are confident that exposure to academy rugby league at this stage would be of huge benefit to their development.
“They are growing as people and players at an already impressive rate and we’d ask fans to trust us in guiding their development. This link-up with Leeds will give them all a chance to develop and come back to us as better players.
“Over exposing them to Championship rugby too early will only stagnate their athletic development and, potentially, their rugby development. They do need exposure, but at the right time and right place.
“If things go to plan, we’d love to get them an opportunity on loan playing in League 1, testing themselves week in, week out against men for a short period, before pulling them back and giving them more opportunities at the knights.
“We’ve put a lot of time and effort into planning the athletic and rugby development of these talented young men and we thoroughly believe and trust this process.”