Burrow excited about new academy structure

Leeds Rhinos Academy head coach Rob Burrow has said that he is looking forward to the introduction of the new academy structure, which has been approved for 2020.

Announced in July, the changes will see the return of the Reserves and Under 18s competition, with Leeds Rhinos Director of Rugby Kevin Sinfield supporting the new format.

After beating City of Hull at the end of the regular season, Burrow talked about the positive impact that the new format will have on the club and the overall academy system. “It’s an exciting time,” he commented. “What we pride ourselves on at this club is that we always bring the young lads through and that will help next year with the reserves and under 18s.

“For clubs to make decisions on players at 19-years-old is harsh because some aren’t always ready to kick on. When you’ve got a reserves system where you can put them for a couple of years and see how they develop, that really helps players because they can stay at the club and keep maturing over time rather than cramming it into three years.

He also talked about his experience of progressing through the under 19s system as a junior from local club Featherstone Juniors.

“What I’m seeing at the moment is that players leave the scholarship as an outstanding player and it’s almost like they’re in a new environment where they have to make their own identity again,” he explained. “I’ve known a few players who have been world class at scholarship but haven’t been able to handle the step up to the academy so with the format changing, you should see those special players continue to progress rather than find it hard to adjust.”

Seven players have either been out on loan in the Betfred Championship and League One or featured for the Rhinos first team in 2019 and Burrow agreed that they should be staying at the Rhinos club. “It will help to keep players who we’ve sent out on loan or dual registration, such as Callum McLelland and Muizz Mustapha. In my opinion, I think players should play for the club that owns them and if it is a competitive league in the reserves, I think it will be a really strong competition. There will be the non-selected players that will be looking to contribute and there might be an international player returning from injury and that will create a good test for the lads like Owen Trout, who have been applying their trade out in the Championship.”

Listen to Rob’s full interview here: