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Meet Leeds Rhino’s 2023 Academy signings

Meet Leeds Rhino's 2023 Aacademy signings (Photo - Leeds Rhinos Media)
Meet Leeds Rhino's 2023 Aacademy signings (Photo - Leeds Rhinos)

Meet Leeds Rhino’s 2023 Academy signings

Author : Dan Hawkhead Rhino's Media

Meet Leeds Rhino’s 2023 Academy signings

Leeds Rhinos revealed the latest intake twelve players moving into the Academy for the 2023 season.

Meet Leeds Rhino’s 2023 Academy signings

Find out more about the new cohort, with an insight from their Under-16s head coach Mark Butterill.

Mason Corbett

Meet Leeds Rhino's 2023 Academy signings Mason Corbett Position: Hooker

Mason Corbett Position: Hooker

Position: Hooker

Community Club: East Leeds

School: John Smeaton Academy

First Scholarship Appearance: Vs London Broncos (A) 01/06/2021

2022 Appearances: Six

Scholarship Tries: Three

Mason Corbett started playing at East Leeds when he was six and after being head high tackled in a match, his desire to get better and stronger inspired him to continue with the sport.

His dad Andy coached the East Leeds team and coming through the junior ranks, the club won the Under-13s and Under-14s division one titles, Leeds and District Cup and BARLA Cup, plus he also won the Yorkshire Cup.

He was named player of the match in East Leeds Under-12s Yorkshire Cup final win over Castleford Lock Lane.

Joining Leeds in 2021, he made his first Scholarship appearance in a 48-8 away win over London Broncos and he crowned the occasion with a try.

He finished the season with three appearances, before going on to play a further six times in 2022. He notably captained the side in the season opener against St Helens.

What the coach says

“Mason is a quick and elusive hooker from East Leeds. During his time in the Scholarship, he has only missed two games and has shown good service out of acting half and a good running game.” – Mark Butterill.

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Declan Ementon

Declan Ementon Meet Leeds Rhino's 2023 Academy signings Position: Prop

Declan Ementon Position: Prop Meet Leeds Rhino’s 2023 Academy signings

Position: Prop

Community Club: East Leeds

School: Ralph Thoresby High School

First Scholarship Appearance: Vs St Helens (A) 23/03/2022

2022 Appearances: Six

Declan Ementon was first inspired to play Rugby after meeting the England team when he was younger.

He split his time between both the 13-player and 15-player codes, joining Leeds Underdogs Rugby League and Moortown RUFC.

He later swapped to East Leeds where he enjoyed cup success at the club. He joined the Rhinos Scholarship at the start of 2022, and went on to play six out of the seven games that season. He scored his sole try of the campaign in a 52-16 win over Hull KR.

What the coach says

“Declan was a great fit into our Under-16s this year. He is a big, tough, no nonsense middle who makes plenty of metres from his carries and is really hard to defend against.” – Butterill

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Ben Findlay

Ben Findlay Position: Wing

Ben Findlay Position: Wing

Position: Wing

Community Club: Guiseley Rangers

School: Rodillian Academy

First Scholarship Appearance: Vs Wakefield Trinity (H) 09/06/2021

Scholarship Tries: Two

Leeds-born outside back Ben Findlay played for Guiseley Rangers, Hunslet Parkside, Shaw Cross Sharks, Batley Boys and Hunslet Warriors growing up before he was picked up for the Rhinos scholarship squad for 2021.

He played in two games during his first season and scored a try in both, but unfortunately missed the 2022 season through injury.

What the coach says

“Ben has been unfortunate this year as he has been out injured for most of the season.

Nevertheless, off the games that he played last year and his attitude around the team this year, he has the attributes to go far in this game.” – Butterill

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Bobby Hartley

Bobby Hartley Position: Prop Meet Leeds Rhino's 2023 Academy signings

Bobby Hartley Position: Prop Meet Leeds Rhino’s 2023 Academy signings

Position: Prop

Community Club: East Leeds

School: Mount St Mary’s

First Scholarship Appearance: Vs London Broncos (A) 01/06/2021

2022 Appearances: Seven

Prop Bobby Hartley is following in the steps of his brother Kiedan, who came through the Rhinos Academy pathway and currently plays for Hunslet RLFC.

He is one of four players in this cohort to have played for East Leeds, where he seven pieces of silverware.

Scoring the match winner in East Leeds Under-12s BARLA Cup final win over Lock Lane is his favourite rugby moment.

Debuting for the Rhinos Scholarship with a try against London Broncos, he backed up a strong first season under Mark Butterill by being the only player to feature in every match in 2022.

He also recorded tries across consecutive games against Bradford, Hull KR and Wakefield Trinity this year.

What the coach says

“Bobby has been relentless this year for my team. He has played in every game in the forwards and is a hardworking, durable, speedy middle. He has a big engine and has shown good leg speed too.” – Butterill

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Archie Hurford

Archie Hurford Position: Second Row

Archie Hurford Position: Second Row

Position: Second Row

Community Club: Guiseley Rangers

School: Woodhouse Grove

First Scholarship Appearance: Vs London Broncos (A) 01/06/2021

2022 Appearances: Five

2022 Tries: Two

Second rower Archie Hurford started playing his junior rugby at North Leeds Leopards but later moved to Guiseley Rangers.

He was one of five players from the club that were picked up by the Rhinos Scholarship scouts and he made his first outing in the famous blue and amber against London in of 2021.

This year, he’s started five out the Rhinos’ seven games, scoring his two tries against Hull KR in a 52-16 result.

What the coach says

“Archie is a high energy back rower or middle. He has good leg speed and isn’t one to shy away from a tackle. He loves the physicality of the game.“ – Butterill

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Fergus McCormack

Fergus McCormack Position: Half Back

Fergus McCormack Position: Half Back

Position: Half Back

Community Club: Guiseley Rangers

School: Woodhouse Grove

First Scholarship Appearance: Vs London Broncos (A) 01/06/2021

2022 Appearances: Five

2022 Tries: Six (Joint second most in the Under-16s this year)

Half back Fergie McCormack played for Guiseley Rangers throughout his junior career where her helped them win the Under-12s Challenge Cup with two conversions in the Final.

In 2021, he was one of a number of players to debut for the Rhinos Scholarship and started in back to back wins against London Broncos and Wakefield Trinity.

This year, he has pulled out some big performances, including one in the Rhinos’ 60-0 win over Bradford at Headingley in April. In his five starts, the half back recorded six tries, including a hat trick against Castleford Tigers in the final game of the season.

What the coach says

“Half back Fergie is a maverick half. He has really impressed me this year with his strong running and passing game and I can’t wait to see how he progressed under Chev in the Academy.” – Butterill

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Mark Nelson

Mark Nelson Position: Prop (Photo - Leeds Rhinos)

Mark Nelson Position: Prop (Photo – Leeds Rhinos)

Position: Prop

Community Club: East Leeds

School: Corpus Chrisi

First Scholarship Appearance: Vs Wakefield Trinity (H) 09/06/2021

2022 Appearances: Two

Mark Nelson began his rugby journey at Hunslet Warriors before moving to East Leeds, where he won the Challenge Cup final along with a number of his current Rhinos team mates.

The prop played in three out of four games for the Under-16s in 2021, including a start at loose forward in a 32-16 result against Hull KR, but this year, he has only made two appearances.

What the coach says

“Prop Mark Nelson may have been restricted through injury this year, but he’s impressed in the games he has played in.

He’s a strong ball carrying middle, who can adapt to play in the back row too, and he has impressed me with good leg power into contact.” – Butterill:

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Joe Phillips Position: Prop (Photo - Leeds Rhinos)

Joe Phillips Position: Prop (Photo – Leeds Rhinos)

Joe Phillips

Position: Prop

Community Club: Siddal

School: Ryburn Valley High School

First Scholarship Appearance: Vs London Broncos (A) 01/06/2021

2022 Appearances: Three

Prop Joe Phillips is part of the next generation of Academy talent that has previously played for Siddal.

Joining the likes of current first teamers Tom Holroyd, Morgan Gannon and Levi Edwards, he is one of two players from the Halifax club that will be in the Under-18s next season, along with Riley Sunderland.

Whilst in the Rhinos Scholarship, Phillips only missed one game in his first season under Butterill and his staff but was restricted to only three appearances in 2022 due to injury.

Notably, he captained the side twice this year in home games against Warrington Wolves and Newcastle Thunder.

What the coach says

“Prop Joe is a tough, no nonsense middle. He has a strong running and defensive game and has shown good leadership qualities to earn the chance to captain the side twice this year.” Butterill

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Jack Purtill

Jack Purtill Position: Half back/hooker (Photo - Leeds Rhinos)

Jack Purtill Position: Half back/hooker (Photo – Leeds Rhinos)

Position: Half back/hooker

Community Club: Leigh Miners Rangers

School: St Mary’s Catholic High School

First Scholarship Appearance: Vs Wakefield Trinity (A) 15/06/2022

2022 Appearances: Three

2022 Tries: One (Vs Castleford Tigers)

Jack played his junior rugby for Leigh Miners Rangers before joining Leeds in June this year.

Under Butterill, Purtill made a starting debut in a 42-36 win over Wakefield Trinity, before coming off the bench against in home clashes with Newcastle and Castleford.

He scored his sole try of the year for the Rhinos against the Tigers in a 54-24 result.

He is the son of current Hull FC assistant coach and former England Knights head coach Kieron.

What the coach says

“Jack was one of five players that joined the team midway through 2022. He is a strong ball carrier and also has a strong defensive game.” – Butterill

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Riley Sunderland

Riley Sunderland Position: Outside back (Photo - Leeds Rhinos)

Riley Sunderland Position: Outside back (Photo – Leeds Rhinos)

Position: Outside back

Community Club: Siddal

School: Trinity Academy

First Scholarship Appearance: Vs Hull KR (A) 04/05/2022

2022 Appearances: One

Outside back Riley Sunderland joined the Rhinos Scholarship team halfway through the 2022 campaign, making his first appearance in an away win over Hull KR.

Coming through the ranks at Siddal, after being encouraged to start playing the sport by his friends, he helped the club win the division one title.

What the coach says

“Riley was a great addition to the Scholarship this season.

He is a big robust outside back, who has a strong running game. It was great to see him get out on the field against Hull KR earlier this season.” – Butterill

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Harry Taylor

Harry Taylor Position: Wing/centre (Photo - Leeds Rhinos)

Harry Taylor Position: Wing/centre (Photo – Leeds Rhinos)

Position: Wing/centre

Community Club: Guiseley Rangers

School: Prince Henry’s Grammar School

First Scholarship Appearance: Vs Wakefield Trinity (H) 09/06/2021

2022 Appearances: Six

2022 Tries: Six (Joint second most in the Under-16s this year)

Winger Harry Taylor first started to learn to play Rugby League in the garden with his grandad. He later joined Guiseley and won the club’s player of the season award last year.

This year he has been a serial try scorer, recording the joint second most tries by an Under-16s player with six tries in as many appearances.

What the coach says

“Harry certainly knows where the try line is, as he has scored six tries this year. He is tough, skilful and elusive, all great qualities for our Academy.” – Butterill

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Kai Taylor-Smith

 Kai Taylor-Smith Position: Full back/wing (Photo - Leeds Rhinos)

Kai Taylor-Smith Position: Full back/wing (Photo – Leeds Rhinos)

Position: Full back/wing

Community Club: Hunslet Club Parkside

School: Bruntcliffe Academy

First Scholarship Appearance: Vs London Broncos (A) 01/06/2021

2022 Appearances: Six

2022 Points: 90 (Four tries, 37 conversions)

A product of Hunslet Parkside and Drighlington, the full back was selected for the Rhinos scholarship in 2020 and made his one and only appearance of the season in a 48-8 win over London Broncos.

This year, he only missed one match and recorded four tries and 37 goals to finish as the Under-16s’ top points scorer.

He is the son of three time Grand Final winner Lee Smith and says first memory of rugby was watching his dad score a try and win the 2009 Grand Final with the Rhinos.

What the coach says:

“Kai has played around the back line this year and has been great at full back and on the wing.

He is fast, dynamic and really makes you sit up every time he gets a hold of the ball.” – Butterill

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