Before the start of the 2021 season, there was a fair bit of chatter coming out of Headingley about two 17-year-old sensations who’d already forced their way into the first team squad leapfrogging the Under 19s setup.
The two youngsters were Morgan Gannon and Levi Edwards and coach Richard Agar only had positive things to say about the duo. The pair featured in Leeds’ only pre-season friendly against Huddersfield both coming on to play centre in the dying stages of the game.
Edwards’ name had come up throughout the 2020 campaign when he was named in a number of 21-man squads during the season despite being just 16. Most expected the young centre to make his debut in 2021, but Gannon beat him to it making his debut off the bench to provide some real bite down the middle of the field against St Helens in the cup.
From there, he flourished becoming the perfect back-up backrower showing great tenacity and physicality often matching or topping the efforts of his much more experienced opposite numbers despite being 17.
He scored his first try away at Castleford and starred in memorable wins against Warrington and Hull FC and has since been called up into Paul Anderson’s England Knights’ squad.
Edwards joins him in the England Knights squad somewhat surprisingly. The youngster has yet to play a minute of Super League but did shine for Batley whilst on loan with the club earlier this season.
Even he admitted he was a little surprised by the call-up in an interview with BBC West Yorkshire. Talking about when he received the news he said: “I was really shocked. I was on the sofa chilling and then got a phone call saying that I’d been picked for the squad. It’s a really big achievement especially for my age.
“I didn’t see it coming, I didn’t expect it especially so soon. My aim was to get picked for England in a few years but I didn’t expect it so soon.”
He also noted that he’s eager to make his Super League debut in 2022: “I’m going to try and push this pre-season to make my debut next year. I played in the Championship this year at Batley and I enjoyed every bit of it.
“Hopefully I can make my [Leeds] debut next year. It’ll mean everything because I’ve worked so hard to get to where I am now.”
🗣 ‘I'm going to try and push as hard as I can this pre-season to make my debut next year.'
— BBC Sport West Yorkshire (@BBCWYS) October 12, 2021
Gannon of course has already made his Leeds debut and he looked back fondly on the experiences of this season: “I always knew I could do something and it just needed the first game to see where I was at and after a few games I started to push on and make a difference and try and be a bigger player.
“I’m not there yet but from where I’ve started I’ve gained a lot of confidence which will mean a lot going forward.
He then looked ahead to his goals for next season: “I think there’s always that same drive. I’m not where I want to be just yet and there’s always that next step. I want to be playing regularly and I want to be playing on merit rather than getting in through injuries. I want to be earning my way through performance.
“There’s stuff to build on, obviously I’m not the complete player yet so there’s still a lot to do going forward.”
🗣 ‘I want to be playing on merit.'
— BBC Sport West Yorkshire (@BBCWYS) October 13, 2021