Rhinos want long-term commitments from key players

Leeds Rhinos chief executive Gary Hetherington wants the core of his squad to finish their careers at Headingley.

The 59-year-old was speaking after handing Carl Ablett a lengthy contract extension yesterday that will see him remain at Headingley until 2018.

Hetherington also wants England winger Tom Briscoe to end his career with the Yorkshire club.

“Carl is now contracted until the end of 2018,” he said.

“He had a couple of years left anyway, but this is a significant extension.

“We are now embarking on a policy of repeating what we did probably 10 years ago with players like Rob Burrow, Danny McGuire, Kevin Sinfield and Jamie Jones-Buchanan.

“Those players effectively pledged their careers to the Rhinos and Carl Ablett has now done the same.

“He is the second player to do that. Tom Briscoe signed a five-year contract when he joined us and we would envisage him playing out his career with the Rhinos.

“Carl is already a senior player and a senior international and at 28 I would think he will play out his career here.

“He has already achieved a great deal and hopefully his best years are still to come.”

Ablett said: ”I am not somebody who looks too far ahead.

“I always concentrate on the here and now and trying to get better.

“It is nice, but it doesn’t make any difference to the way I play. All I am thinking about is making sure I can get better this year.”

Coach Brian McDermott said: “Carl has, over the last few years, progressed into not only a regular starter with us, but also broken into the international team.

“He has an all-round game of high-quality attack, supported by his sound and efficient defence that can see him play at ease either as a back-row or an attacking three-quarter.

“It’s an exciting time for the current team as over the course of the next few years there’ll be a significant transition with the old guard handing over the task of maintaining success to our new leaders. We see Carl as one of these men to lead from the front and continue the club’s philosophies that have been in place for a good few years.”

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