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Ford discusses teenagers and link-up with Leeds

Speaking to the media this week, Knights Head Coach James Ford further discussed the new relationship the Club has with Leeds Rhinos to aid the development of the four teenagers within our men’s first-team squad.

Last week saw the Club announce a dual-registration partnership that will see Myles Harrison, AJ Towse and Brad Ward get game time within the Rhinos’ academy and reserves team over the next few months with Toby Warren also heading to Leeds on a one-month loan deal.

Warren played last week for the Betfred Super League club’s academy team against Newcastle Thunder and Ford commented on a strong showing from the back-rower.

“He looked a real handful as you would expect with him playing against people of his own age. It’s the first time he’s really done that for a while and Newcastle struggled to handle him, to be honest.

“He probably could have selected some of his tackles a little bit smarter and I think he tried to knock everybody into next week. We’ll have a look and that and talk about it with him so then I’d expect to see him select his tackles a bit better this week.”

Tonight will see Warren line up for the Rhinos alongside both AJ Towse and Myles Harrison in their reserve match against fellow Super League side Wigan Warriors.

“I think it’s great. At this minute in time, we don’t have an academy or reserves team. We have some talented young players who we are exposing to first-team rugby when we can and I think they are doing remarkably well for eighteen-year-old young men, I really do.

“I’m so proud of them, but there’s a big step between being a week in week out first-teamer and someone who is in and out of the team. Having this opportunity to get them more games at a club like Leeds is brilliant.”

Discussing how often the youngsters will be training with the Rhinos, Ford outlined that it’s very much a matter of taking things week by week.

“When we have a loan player, I’d want them with us all the time. Leeds want access to them as well and we just have to manage it with them. They trained with Leeds on Thursday night before playing tomorrow and then we will take it week by week.

“I want to help those young men develop and if they’re going to get a bit more of an opportunity by training once or twice more with Leeds, then I’m willing to do that. If it doesn’t make an impact then they will stay with us.”

Finally, Ford pointed to the long-term plan that he hopes will see the youngsters staking a very real claim to be first-choice players in the not-too-distant future.

“I don’t see them being there all season. I want them to go there, play, learn, get some more reps on a rugby field and come back to us slightly more experienced and improved players.

“We can then get them some more opportunities in the Championship and that’s the plan we have in place to facilitate their development so that, next season, we have some genuine first-grade players who are bashing the door down telling me to put them in.”


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