Leigh Centurions Head of Rugby Derek Beaumont has issued a stinging criticism of Leeds Rhinos chief executive Gary Hetherington about allegedly seeking to approach contracted Centurions player Ryan Brierley, but then denying that they are interested in signing him.
As the rumour mill went into overdrive last week, the Rhinos issued a statement from Hetherington, which said: “I can categorically state that we have no interest in signing Ryan Brierley from Leigh Centurions.”
But that statement didn’t appease the Centurions, as Beaumont made clear.
“I was disappointed with Gary Hetherington’s comments in his statement, as he has shown total disregard to Ryan’s welfare,” said Beaumont.
“He has seemingly hung him out to dry in front of his own fans by creating the impression that Ryan wanted to leave Leigh in what appears to be a bid to protect his own club from having approached one of my players.
“The fact of the matter is, whether Ryan’s agent contacted Leeds or not (something he denies to me), Leeds rang Ryan directly, resulting in me speaking to them and it ending there. Any club should only ever speak to another club’s contracted player once permission is given to them to talk with the player. This protocol was not followed.
“I spoke to Ryan about any interest from Leeds, which there wasn’t. Ryan has always been honest with me throughout and has made it clear he does not want to leave Leigh and if he did he would have no problem in coming telling me that he did. We have a relationship where he can approach me in that way. He is confident in Paul Rowley’s vision for him and the progress he has made.
“He also knows that if the time comes where he has progressed to that level, and we haven’t as a club, then we wouldn’t hold him back. But I am confident we will all reach the required standard in unison.”
Rumours linking Leigh prop Sam Barlow, who is contracted to the Centurions until November 2019, to Leeds had also been rife last week.
“I have had further unsettlement surrounding Sam Barlow over the last few days which is also unwelcome, but I don’t wish to go further into that now, as it has been nipped in the bud,” added Beaumont.
“There are rules surrounding players’ contracts and if they are not adhered to there can be serious consequences. Despite having significant evidence of breaches of these rules on two of my players I am satisfied that my amiable conversation with Gary will be sufficient so as not to have to involve the RFL on the matter.”
Meanwhile League Express understands that the Rhinos are interested in Sheffield Eagles halfback Cory Aston.
Last season the goalkicking 19-year-old made eight first-team appearances, scoring four tries, having been a star of the club’s academy side.
League Express understands that Leeds have enquired about Aston’s availability with a view to developing him into a Super League player over the next two years.
But Sheffield are keen to hang onto their rising talent as they look to make an impact in the Championship next season.