Rhinos philosophical over departures
Leeds Rhinos are putting on a brave face after watching two of their promising youngsters being snapped up by New Zealand Warriors.
Jordan Baldwinson, who made his Super League debut last month, and Mason Tonks will play for the Warriors' Under-20s in the NRL's National Youth competition next season and have an option on their contracts for 2015.
The Aucklanders want to take over the 18-year-olds' development and groom them into NRL players.
Leeds coach Brian McDermott admits the big difference in salary cap, allied to an unfavourable exchange rate, makes it increasingly difficult for Super League clubs to compete with their NRL counterparts but believes the swoop represents a compliment to the Rhinos' youth system.
"We were keen to retain Jordan Baldwinson and made him an offer that was above his current position within our structure," McDermott said.
"However, we understand the attraction for both players to live and play in the southern hemisphere and I hope it works out for them and they continue to develop their natural talent.
"Our focus remains on developing players like Alex Foster, Elliot Minchella and Liam Sutcliffe at the heart of our club for many years to come.
"We have got used to the NRL sides looking to sign proven talent from Super League - people like Adrian Morley, Sam Burgess, Gareth Ellis and James Graham - but, given the amount of money now washing around their competition, it is perhaps inevitable that they would start to target unproven players to bolster their own junior ranks.
"I think it is a big compliment to the work being done by Barrie McDermott and our entire youth department that a side like the Warriors, who, as we have seen down the years, have so much natural talent available in their whole country, have needed to come to our competition to strengthen their side."