Hetherington says Rhinos committed to retaining young talent

Leeds Rhinos Chief Executive Gary Hetherington has confirmed that England star Kallum Watkins has not been approached by NRL side Cronulla Sharks and the club are not prepared to release their young stars to head to Australia.

Speculation last week linked Watkins, who has just become a father for the first time, with a move to Australia and the NRL. However, Hetherington has moved to quash those stories and says the Champions and their star young back are looking forward to building a future together. 

He commented, "There will inevitably be a great deal of press speculation surrounding Super League elite players and the NRL. But most has no foundation and I can confirm Leeds Rhinos will not be selling any of our players to NRL clubs. There has been no contact from Cronulla with either the club or with Kallum, despite misleading statements in the trade press. If there was to be an approach, the answer would be an emphatic no. I have spoken to Kallum about the speculation and he has also confirmed that all his ambitions are with Leeds Rhinos and England rugby league."

The Rhinos Chief Executive has recently returned from Australia having seen first hand the impact of the new broadcasting rights deal struck in Australia on the NRL competition. Hetherington believes inevitably that will impact on the Super League competition. He added, "Our challenge is to produce the world’s best rugby league team within the confines of the Super League salary cap. We will only achieve that by firstly producing and then retaining our top players. Our fans can be assured this policy will not be changing.

“It is also reassuring that our players have a commitment to each other – which in many ways is of much more significance,” added Hetherington.