Leeds Rhinos yesterday announced that 12 players from the club’s Scholarship programme have signed new contracts that will see them progress into Chev Walker’s Under-18s Academy squad in 2023.
Guiseley have four players represented, with second rower Archie Hurford, wingers Ben Findlay and Harry Taylor and half back Fergus McCormack all making the step up to the Under-18s next year. Taylor has had a standout season in the Under-16s, scoring six tries in as many appearances, whilst McCormack, who has experience playing Rugby League and Union, has also scored six this season.
Findlay, who played for five different community clubs during before signing for the Rhinos, missed most of the season through injury, but he has continued to make an impression on the coaching staff, with two tries in as many appearances in 2021. Hurford, who played for North Leeds Leopards before joining Rangers, has made six appearances over two years under Butterill.
Hunslet Parkside fullback Kai Taylor-Smith has also been snapped up whose father Lee Smith’s name will ring a bell for Super League fans.
Of course, Smith was a try scorer in each of Rhinos’ Grand Final Old Trafford triumphs from 2007-2009.
Taylor-Smith secured an academy contract after an outstanding season in Leeds’ scholarship, in which he slotted over 37 goals.
Four of the 2023 intake come from East Leeds. The quartet from East Leeds have plenty of silverware to their name, including two BARLA Cups, two Leeds and District Cups, the Yorkshire Challenge Cup and two division one titles. Hooker, Mason Corbett has only missed two games for the Scholarship and he has scored three tries. Prop, Mark Nelson played in three out of four games for the Under-16s in 2021 but was restricted to two appearances this year through injury.
Declan Ementon was signed at the start of the year and has impressed in his six appearances to earn an Academy deal. Fellow forward Bobby Hartley, who is following in the path of his brother Kiedan who played in the Rhinos Pathway, featured in every Under-16s game this season.