Leeds Rhinos fast-track highly-rated teenager into first-team squad

ROHAN SMITH’S desire to bring youth products into the first team has been hailed by Leeds Rhinos’ latest full-time recruit.

Young halfback Fergus McCormack has signed a professional deal with the club after two years in their Scholarship programme.

McCormack, who came through the junior ranks at Guiseley Rangers, was initially signed on an Academy contract for the 2023 season.

But his new deal has seen him fast-tracked into the Rhinos’ first-team environment, and he will spend pre-season training with Smith’s Super League Grand Finalists.

“I feel amazing, it’s a bit surreal,” 16-year-old McCormack said of his contract.

“I don’t think I’ve quite clocked it yet but my mum and dad are really proud. I don’t think they could be prouder.

“Mark Butterill (Under-16s coach), John Bastian (player pathway development manager) and all the Scholarship coaches have developed me, as well as the boys who put in the hard work and graft week in, week out, so I can’t thank them enough. 

“Rohan talks a lot about the squad and how he likes bringing the youth up so that has inspired me to make the move into the first team.”

McCormack, who is studying his A-levels at Woodhouse Grove in Bradford and has also played both rugby union and rugby sevens, joins three Under-18s players in earning first-team deals at Leeds ahead of 2023.

Alfie Edgell, Riley Lumb and Jack Smith will also be training with Smith’s squad after helping the Rhinos lift the Academy title this year, winning the Grand Final against St Helens in dramatic fashion.