Yesterday, Gary Hetherington spoke about the recruitment process at Leeds and the obstacles standing in their way this year.
He revealed that when Rohan Smith arrived at Headingley, the club has spent up to the salary cap for 2022 and 2023 leaving little room for Smith to work in as he strives to assemble his own squad.
Hetherington also noted that it was a two year project given the number of players who could leave the club at the end of 2023 with a surprising amount of players entering the final year of their deals at Headingley.
Here’s what the Rhinos Chief Executive said on their YouTube channel:
“I think it’s fair to say that we’re still in a rebuilding phase and that started the day Rohan was appointed as he inherited the staff and the playing group contracted for this season and next season. He’s going to be here long term and needs to formalise the squad he wants. He encapsulates the spirit of Leeds building a squad primarily on home talent that has come through our system and always look to bring players in from other clubs who add value.
“We’ve spent a lot of time spent looking at the squad for next season and the new additions that could come in and the players we want to retain.
“At the start of the season Rohan was faced with a full spent up salary cap for 2022 but 2023 as well which has required a fair bit of surgery and potential change as well.
“It’s a two-year plan we have a lot of senior players into the last year of their contract in 2023. Some players are coming to retirement age. It’s a process of change and we’ve got Rohan at the helm who is making those decisions.”
Leeds have a remarkable 13 players entering the final year of their deals at Headingley meaning you assemble a pretty handy side from the players who could leave Leeds at the end of next year.
Amongst them is halfback pairing Blake Austin and Aidan Sezer who have just completed their first seasons at the club.
Both are towards the ends of their careers so it will be interesting to see what happens with them moving forward. After a tough start, they helped guide Leeds to Old Trafford after all and the Rhinos certainly missed Sezer on Saturday.
Matt Prior certainly won’t stay at the club beyond next year revealing that he is set to retire at the end of 2023. Fellow forward Zane Tetevano’s future is also up in the air but it’s safe to say Smith has brought the best out of him recently.
That could potentially leave four quota spots available for 2024 and it could be five depending on what happens to David Fusitu’a after an injury hit first season at Leeds.
Jack Walker’s future is up in the air right now after spending the end of the season on loan and with Zak Hardaker in fine form, it’s possible Leeds could move Walker on prior to the end of his deal to open up cap space for Hardaker with no space currently available for the fullback/centre.
Star forwards James Bentley and Cameron Smith are also coming to the ends of their deals but you’d expect both to stay whilst the slightly older James Donaldson would also deserve a new deal after four great years at Headingley.
Youngsters Sam Walters, Liam Tindall, Levi Edwards and Jack Sinfield are all players Leeds will want to keep hold of as well.
Here’s the full list of players entering the final year of their contracts at Leeds Rhinos: