Leeds Rhinos secure Bentley on two year deal
St Helens' James Bentley
Leeds Rhinos have signed St Helens back rower James Bentley, 23, on a two year contract from 2022 that will bring the former Oulton Raider amateur back to his home city.
The Ireland international started last year’s Grand Final for reigning Champions St Helens and returns to West Yorkshire after beginning his career at Bradford Bulls in 2016, having originally been part of Featherstone Rovers scholarship programme.
He made his senior debut for the Bulls in 2016 and played 28 games for Bradford, scooping their Young Player and Players’ Player of the Year awards as well as being named the Championship’s Young Player of the Year before joining Saints on a three year contract in 2018.
He spent the majority of 2018 on dual-registration at Sheffield but made his St Helens first team debut at home to Hull FC when Saints lifted the League Leaders’ Shield. Two more appearances followed as did an International call-up to Ireland for their European Championship campaign.
2019 saw Bentley play 17 times for Justin Holbrook as he showed his versatility, impressing at hooker, back row and centre working with now Rhinos Assistant Coach Sean Long. He quickly became a fans favourite and went from strength to strength in 2020, nailing down a starting berth in the back row and impressing throughout the Grand Final winning campaign. He was rewarded with the Saints Young Player of the Year Award.
Commenting on the signing Richard Agar said, “We are delighted to have secured James’ signature. He is a young British forward, who has developed tremendously well over the last couple of years where his form and achievements for St Helens have been outstanding. He is a real competitor, with a strong attitude and desire. He is a local lad who will add greatly to the crop of talented forwards we have in the club.”
Bentley added, “I am looking forward to joining the Rhinos for next season. I am a Leeds lad and grew up supporting the team, sitting on the South Stand wall and dreaming of running out on the pitch as a Leeds player. I have had a taste of success at St Helens and I want to make sure I come to Leeds and play my part in helping the team win even more silverware in the years ahead.
“I have had four really enjoyable years at Saints and made some great mates for life. I am doing everything possible to get back healthy and on the pitch as soon as possible and hopefully I can finish the year on the best possible note with St Helens,” added Bentley.