Rhinos and Whitehaven agree partnership
engage Super League Champions Leeds Rhinos have agreed a partnership with Co-operative National League club Whitehaven that will see both clubs benefit from a number of new initiatives.
As part of the partnership, the Rhinos will travel to Cumbria next year for a pre-season friendly at the Recreation Ground plus the Rhinos Head of Youth Development Barrie McDermott will visit the Whitehaven Service Area along with Rhinos Head Coach Brian McClennan and other Rhinos coaching staff to assist with coach development sessions.
The Rhinos have also confirmed that they have signed Whitehaven prop Kyle Amor on a three and half year contract with immediate effect however he will remain at Whitehaven for the remainder of the 2009 season on loan from the Rhinos before joining up with the Leeds first team squad at the start of pre-season.
Commenting on the arrangement Leeds Rhinos Chief Executive Gary Hetherington said, “Cumbria and Whitehaven have a proud place in Rugby League history and the area has produced some of the greatest players to play the game. By forming a partnership with Whitehaven, we will give young players the opportunity to develop with their home town club as well as having a pathway to play in Super League and reach their full potential.
“Brian McClennan and Ged Stokes are fellow Kiwis and both are passionate about player development and youth rugby. Barrie McDermott’s role as Head of Youth Performance is to attract and nurture young talent which this season has seen former Barrow junior Brad Singleton and Whitehaven youngster Jared Stewart move to Headingley Carnegie.
“The Board of Directors at Whitehaven have been extremely forward thinking in all their dealings with us and they have ambitions to build a sustainable future for their club. We will also provide support off the field as well with our own business expertise which can only strengthen the bond between the two clubs,” added Hetherington.
Head Coach Brian McClennan added, “We are delighted to have secured the services of Kyle Amor for the next three years. Like Michael Coady, he is a player with a great deal of potential and we are looking forward to see how he can develop in our programmes during the pre-season schedule. He is a strong player who has consistently delivered good performances for his team and we will be keeping a keen eye on him for the remainder of this season to see how he develops.”
The 22-year-old prop was recently named the Co-operative Championship player of the month for May in his first season in professional rugby having been switched from the back row to the front row by Whitehaven coach Ged Stokes. He has been part of the Whitehaven Academy team for the past two years whilst also playing for his amateur club, Hensingham, as well as playing for BARLA Great Britain.
Commenting on signing for the Rhinos, Amor said, “It is a dream come true. Just twelve months ago I was playing for my amateur side and now I have agreed to join one of the most famous clubs in the world. I know there is still a lot of hard work to do and all I have done so far is just sign my name on a piece of paper but I am committed to making the most of this opportunity.
“I have given up a good job as a printer to follow my dream of playing in Super League but it is a risk worth taking. Ged Stokes told me a month ago that the Rhinos wanted to speak to me and I am glad that it has all been sorted out now. I was at the Rhinos game last Saturday at Hull and the atmosphere just makes the hairs stand up on the back of your neck.
“The partnership is great for young players to have something to aspire to in Cumbria. There are a lot of quality players from Cumbria now playing in Super League and that can only help promote the game up here. I want to finish the season well with Whitehaven. We are in sixth at the moment but we still have to play the teams above us. If we can cause a few upsets that will set us up well for the Play Offs and it would be great to finish this season with a Grand Final appearance because Whitehaven have been great for me and my development so far. I am looking forward to testing myself in a full time environment at the Rhinos but I also know that with the proposed dual registration rules, I will still be able to gain first team experience back at Whitehaven next season, if I am not involved in the Leeds first team.
“I can’t wait to get started with the Rhinos. I keep laughing to myself at the thought of training alongside the likes of Jamie Peacock and Kevin Sinfield. Last year, I was training with my mates at my amateur club and now a year on, I’ll be rubbing shoulders with some of the greats of the game. I’ll have to pinch myself to make sure I am in the right world!” added Amor.